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May 26, 2014 - 06:19 AM
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Pit Note 8: Military Displays, Tributes All Part of Coca-Cola 600 Experience
Posted by: newsla on May 26, 2014 - 06:15 AM
Pit Note 8: Military Displays, Tributes All Part of Coca-Cola 600 Experience

SGT. DAKOTA MEYER TO GIVE STATE OF FREEDOM SPEECH – Toyota and Charlotte Motor Speedway are proud to host Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer, who will offer this year’s State of Freedom speech during the Coca-Cola 600 pre-race salute to the troops, presented by NRA Life of Duty.


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Meyer, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and the War in Afghanistan, received the nation’s highest military honor for his actions on Sept. 9, 2009, during the Battle of Ganjgal in Afghanistan.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. is in a partnership with Meyer and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Chamber Foundation as part of an ongoing initiative to support returning troops and veterans making the transition from the military to civilian jobs.

Meyer will be appearing at various ‘Hiring Our Heroes’ job fairs around the country to meet with veterans and help them understand the importance of personal branding and how to translate military skills to future employers.

IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE – Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be sporting a Superman paint scheme this weekend on his No. 88 National Guard machine, but he won’t be the only superhero at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Superman Hall of Heroes, an organization that honors real heroes who make a positive difference in the lives of others, will hand out 2,500 red Superman capes to fans in the frontstretch grandstands for the Coca-Cola 600. These red-caped fans will serve as a visual salute to our nation’s military heroes.

SEN. HUDSON TO READ PROCLAMATION –Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) authored a proclamation recognizing May 2014 as “Let Freedom Race Celebration Month at Charlotte Motor Speedway.” During Sunday’s pre-race festivities, Hudson will read the proclamation live.

It’s just one facet of the enormous military salute planned for the country's largest Memorial Day Weekend celebration at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Fans will also be treated to a unique helicopter flyover, a vintage air parade and military demonstrations during the speedway’s pre-race salute to the troops. Acclaimed musician Lee Greenwood will perform "God Bless the USA," as fans welcome as many as 2,000 troops taking part in the speedway's Patriot Partners program. The 82nd Airborne All-American Chorus will perform the national anthem, and there will be military vehicle displays, aerial stunt team demonstrations and more.

ALL FOR THE FANS – Angie Matthews and Wanda Ingram have been coming to Charlotte Motor Speedway for 12 years, and they say every race seems to get better than the last.

Between the pre-race displays, the accessibility and the awesome racing, Matthews and Ingram are hooked.

“My favorite part of race weekend is all of the stuff that you don’t see on TV,” Ingram said. “The skydivers, the military vehicles, the cannons … you’d never even know any of that was going on if you weren’t here.”

Behind them, nearly the entire length of pit road was filled with a variety of military vehicles. Howitzers were on display to the side, and a dozen or more military members were performing a show-and-tell of sorts with various guns and weapons.

“For me, this is the best part,” Matthews said. “Being here for Memorial Day weekend and honoring the military the way Charlotte Motor Speedway does … it’s awesome.”

In the background, a Nashville-area band rocked the crowd, as they waited for a slew of scheduled driver appearances.

“It’s so nice that they set up driver appearances on the inside of the track now,” Matthews said. “The availability to get close to drivers and the crew, it’s just the best here.”

For Joe and Jessica King of Jacksonville, N.C., it’s the people that keep them coming back to Charlotte each year.

“We’re members of the Speedway Club, so we’re just down here on pit road to enjoy the music and pre-race,” Joe King said. “Everybody is so friendly here, it’s just a great place to come and have a good time.”

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