CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (WNCT) – In preparation for the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race in Charlotte this Memorial Day, Camp Lejeune had a special guest visit to learn more about what they do.
It’s called Mission 600 Day.
NASCAR Cup Series Driver Aric Almirola and the Charlotte Motor Speedway team connected with service members to better understand and pay tribute to the meaning of Memorial Day.
The crew first arrived at the base in a MV-22 Osprey.
“From the time I got on the Osprey till the time I landed at the LZ, you know, that whole team aspect and that feeling of being a part of something bigger than you is really what I relate to,” said Almirola.
Almirola got the chance to learn more about what the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion does by seeing their vehicles and weapons.
“I’m very honored that someone outside you know of the military is more than welcome to come here and take his time out of the day to see what we do,” said SSG Nicholas Adams.
Almirola got the chance to get up close to the people and equipment, even competing on who can change a tire faster.
“Working on a tank or working on a racecar, whatever it is, I get a lot of enjoyment out of that,” said Almirola. “So having that opportunity to do a simulated pitstop on a tank there and try and change out a tire as quickly as possible. Yeah, I was able to put some of my mechanical skills to use and that was a lot of fun.”
The team members said they hope to take the principles from the Marine Corps back for one of the greatest days of racing.
“To make it to where I can drive a racecar for a living and live in a free country and do what I do, because of all these people that volunteer and sign up to do this,” said Almirola.
That includes as an honor what it means to make the ultimate sacrifice.
“The fact that we actually pause the race halfway through, the names of all of the fallen, the 600 miles of remembrance are on each car on the windshield,” said Greg Walter, executive vice president and general manager of the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We have all these Goldstar families there to actually love on them and show our appreciation for the sacrifices that have been laid at the altar of freedom.”
Almirola was also able to visit the range and participate in a live-fire demonstration before heading back to prepare for race day.