Roush Fenway Racing driver Ryan Newman just underwent some serious training. The NASCAR veteran partnered with Mission 600 ahead of the Coca-Cola 600 and spent time with the United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. He conducted live-fire training exercises and learned about defusing bombs.
Newman took part in this experience during a trip to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He trained alongside MARSOC members, firing a Glock 19 and an M4A1 rifle during exercises. He also watched a demonstration at the David M. Sonka Multi-Purpose Canine Facility featuring a group of highly trained dogs “whose core capabilities range from explosive detection to tracking and protection.”
To make the demonstration more on-hands, Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter donned a bite suit. The Marines then showcased what the K9 unit can do in close-quarter scenarios.
“It’s special, just to be close and in contact and hear the stories of the Marines, that’s what’s really special to me,” Newman said after the visit, per a press release from Charlotte Motor Speedway. “What hit me the most was the emotional side of the canine unit and the memorial to the people and the dogs that didn’t make it – what happens when we fight for our freedom… It’s important for me to pay attention, to spread the word and to make people understand because I know that I have taken a lot for granted when it comes to how and what goes into fighting for our freedom.”
Newman is the third Coca-Cola driver to take part in Mission 600
There are several NASCAR drivers that partnered with Mission 600, the campaign that pairs drivers with regional military bases in order to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces. Daniel Suarez visited virtually with members of the United States Coast Guard and toured U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder.
Austin Dillon, on the other hand, conducted virtual workouts with members of the United States Army while comparing training styles. He and his pit crew watched these soldiers take on the Army Combat Fitness Test, which displayed drills that help them prepare for scenarios on the battlefield. The Richard Childress Racing group then showed their own workouts that focus more on short, explosive movements and upper-body strength for the blistering-fast pit stops.
The 2021 Mission 600 campaign kicked off last month with last year’s Coca-Cola 600 winner Brad Keselowski. He visited Arlington National Cemetery and paid his respects. Team Penske’s Joey Logano will now cap off the Mission 600 campaign. He will visit virtually with Armed Forces Network Japan next week
NASCAR will continue highlighting veterans and active military members
The Mission 600 campaign will end for the year with Logano’s virtual visit next week, but the drivers will continue to showcase their respect for the military. The Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend will cap off the month’s efforts as the drives put special paint schemes on their stock cars and drive 600 miles with the names of fallen service members on their windshields.
Of course, Keselowski’s efforts will continue throughout the year. He founded The Checkered Flag Foundation in 2010 with the goal of honoring and assisting “those who have sacrificed greatly for our country.” Keselowski has used this organization to raise $3.8 million for veterans, active military members, and first responders while donating to the Fisher House Foundation and Paralyzed Veterans of America.
The Checkered Flag Foundation also funded a dog park for canine training, specifically for police forces. Though the local community members and veterans will benefit from the park as well. “We have all other kinds of active programs. I’m really proud of all of them, whether it be the Purple Healing Camp up in the northeast there with the Military Family Foundation,” Keselowski recently told Heavy in an exclusive interview.