RIR and NASCAR Driver Carl Edwards Spend the Day at Sea With Sailors on the USS Eisenhower
Carl Edwards (center) is joined by RIR President Dennis Bickmeier (right) and USS Eisenhower personnel.
It was a day to remember. Richmond International Raceway representatives and NASCAR driver Carl Edwards set out on a flight like no other. Strapped tightly into a C-2 Greyhound on Tuesday, August 16th, the team took off for the USS Eisenhower, located approximately 200 miles southeast of her home in Norfolk, VA. The one hour flight to the ship ended with a hook landing on the flight deck of the IKE.
After departing the plane, Edwards and raceway officials were escorted through the ship to meet with the Commanding Officer, Captain Marcus Hitchcock. Following introductions, the team suited up again and headed back to the flight deck, where they observed F-18s hook landing and catapulting off the carrier.
“I feel like a NASCAR fan right now,” explained Edwards. “This is just amazing. I’m fascinated by all of this, by what goes on on the flight deck. They let me stand right next to the F-18s as they were landing and taking off. Being this close and experiencing something like this must be what race fans feel like when they sit so close to the action at Richmond.”
Edwards and Richmond International Raceway president Dennis Bickmeier spent most of their time on the IKE visiting with sailors, thanking them for their service. Edwards signed autographs, took photos and got to know many of the sailors aboard the ship.
“Our sport has a great attachment to all branches of the military,” commented Bickmeier. “You see it every week - our events are very patriotic and that's why so many people love the attachment that NASCAR has to the military; and in particular, being close to RIR, it means a lot for us to honor these heroes every day for the job they do to keep us protected and safe."
The crew even baked Edwards a personalized birthday cake and sang “Happy Birthday” during his visit to the mess hall.
“We met an amazing group of sailors,” reflected Edwards. “It's just spectacular what these sailors are out here doing. They're sacrificing and putting themselves in a very high risk environment for our country. I'm just honored they had us here today. It's amazing how many of these folks follow our sport and love NASCAR. We met a bunch of fans who are going to be at Richmond in a few weeks.”
As the visit came to a close, Edwards, Bickmeier and team all suited up, boarded the C-2 Greyhound and once again strapped in tightly for the catapult launch off the ship. After an hour flight back to the Norfolk Naval Station Air Terminal, the team departed the plane with sailors and pilots, thanking them for the experience and for their service.
Many of the sailors Edwards met on the USS Eisenhower will be attend the September 9-10 NASCAR weekend at Richmond International Raceway.
The NASCAR weekend kicks off Friday, September 9, for the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race “under the lights.” Advance tickets start at $30, with children 12 and younger admitted free with a ticketed adult in general admission sections. Friday’s ticket includes Fas Mart Pole Qualifying and practice for the Sprint Cup Series, as well as WRIC-TV8 Pole Qualifying and practice for the Nationwide Series.
The weekend concludes Saturday, September 10, when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers hit the track for the Wonderful Pistachios 400 “One Last Race to Make The Chase.” One of the most anticipated races of the season, the event marks the final race before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Advance tickets start at $45. Tickets for both nights can be purchased online by clicking here or by calling 866-455-7223.