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'Life in the Fast Lane's' Austin Dillon, Paul Swan Visit Fort Bragg with Mission 600
The NASCAR Cup Series teammates spent time with the 82 Airborne as part of the league’s partnership with the U.S. Armed Forces.
NASCAR star Austin Dillon and his Richard Childress Racing crewman Paul Swan visited with members of the 82 Airborne 2nd Brigade Combat team and the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg Wednesday through Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 2023 Mission 600 campaign.
Leading up to the 64th annual Coca-Cola 600, which throttles into North Carolina Memorial Day Weekend, the initiative paired the long-time friends and co-stars of USA Network’s Austin Dillon’s Life in the Fast Lane with the U.S. Army’s most strategically mobile combat division. Known as the “All American Division” because when it formed in 1917 its initial members came from all 48 states, these fearless warriors comprise one of America’s most elite fighting forces, which specializes in parachute assault operations behind enemy lines.
Through building meaningful connections between Uncle Sam’s military and the world of motorsports, the purpose of the strategic alliance is designed to educate the NASCAR community about what life’s like for the men and women who selflessly serve in our nation’s various combat branches.
An inspired Dillon and Swan spoke with reporters about their time with the men and women from these two elite groups.
“It’s really special any time you get to come out to Fort Bragg or a military base and spend time with the men and women who keep this country what it is and fight for the freedoms we enjoy,” Dillon who pilots the No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro, said, according to NASCAR.com. “Seeing what they do, getting the adrenaline rush of flying in a Blackhawk and shooting some guns, it’s an amazing day.”
Joined by Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter, the RCR teammates learning about the training the divisions’ members do as well as the equipment they use, including flying in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and firing an M119A2 Howitzer. The trio also broke bread with service members in the Warrior Restaurant and participated in both the Army Combat Fitness Test and live-fire exercises.
“Just coming out here and getting to be around these men and women is just incredible,” Swan offered. “Getting up in that Black Hawk is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. When we were shooting the Howitzer, I said, ‘Man, you guys are a well-oiled machine.’ What they do is exactly like what we do at a pit stop. If everybody is not doing their job, doing it right and doing it well, something’s going to mess up. For us, maybe it’s a slow stop or a missed lug; for them, in combat, it could be life or death.”
Located in the southeast corridor of North Carolina just 20 minutes from Fayetteville, Fort Bragg possesses the largest population of any military base in the United States.
“We’ve been doing these Mission 600 visits for a couple of years now,” noted Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Greg Walter, according to NASCAR.com “What’s really neat is the natural conversations and the mutual appreciation. Austin’s asking questions to this paratrooper’s deployments overseas and family and training. Then, conversely, the paratrooper is asking Austin these same questions. There’s just a natural and mutual appreciation.”
The annual Memorial Day Weekend event unites NASCAR and families with ties to our U.S. Armed forces, including a patriotic pre-race show that pays tribute to the men and women who serve – especially our fallen warriors – with participation from all six major military branches: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy and, the newest member, the U.S. Space Force.
For Dillon who has a strong connection to the U.S. Armed Forces community and appreciates its history, the patriotic Cup Series race in Charlotte holds special meaning.
“I love the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend,” stated Dillon. “The national anthem, the stars and stripes, every military branch being represented, 600 Miles of Remembrance — so many things that tie back to our country and the people who have served and made this country what it is. The real heroes come to our race. It’s really special.”