51st Coca-Cola 600 Pre-Race Festivities to Feature Military Salute; A-Team Cast, Dr. Dobson, Wounded Soldier Hyland also to Participate
During the pre-race show for the 51st running of the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, Charlotte Motor Speedway officials will salute the U.S. armed forces with a military demonstration, special awards, military band performances and a presentation with Medal of Honor recipients. The pre-race festivities will also include appearances by the cast of “The A-Team,” Twentieth Century Fox’s summer motion picture event which opens June 11, an invocation by renowned family advocate Dr. James Dobson and the singing of the national anthem by wounded veteran and trained opera singer Cpl. John Hyland.
Gates will open at 12:30 p.m. An approximate timeline of pre-race events follows:
4:00 p.m. – 4:40 p.m.
A procession of force protection military vehicles will take a parade lap around the track, followed by the presentation of the Stonewall Jackson Award to Col. Joe Marm, a former Medal of Honor recipient. The Hometown Heroes Award presentation to 1st Sgt. James Jetton and Staff Sgt. Mary Nelms, both from Charlotte, N.C. Following the presentation, the 82nd Airborne Division Chorus and the U.S. Army Drill Team will perform.
4:40 p.m. – 5:20 p.m.
Video presentations produced by The History Channel will be played on Sprint Vision screens honoring veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, as well as active military and veterans from modern-day conflicts including Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Following the presentations, a parade of vintage military planes will take to the skies, including a P-51 Mustang owned by Roush Fenway Racing founder and co-owner Jack Roush, a legendary B-17 bomber that played the role of the Memphis Belle in the 1990 movie of the same name, a giant C-47 transport plane and an A1-H Skyraider. Personnel from Fort Bragg, N.C., will conduct a military demonstration on the frontstretch involving Little Bird helicopters, military vehicles, a Howitzer demonstration and more than 600 troops.
Medal of Honor recipients Robert Maxwell (World War II), Ronald Rosser (Korea) and Charles Hagemeister (Vietnam) will be recognized on the pre-race stage. A tribute to honor the families of fallen soldiers from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C., including Capt. Thomas “Lag” Gramith and Capt. Mark “Pit Bull” McDowell, who hailed from Charlotte, will follow.
5:20 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
A host of VIPs will grace the pre-race stage including Honorary Race Director Eric Cantor, Virginia Congressman; Honorary Starter Joe Hackney, North Carolina House Speaker; cast members from “The A-Team,” including Jessica Biel; several executives from Coca-Cola, and John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s. Driver introductions for the Coca-Cola 600 will follow.
5:45 p.m. – 6:10 p.m.
The U.S. Army parachute team The Golden Knights will perform a jump over the speedway. Dr. James Dobson, founder of the non-profit group Focus on the Family and host of the radio program “Family Talk,” will give the invocation. Purple Heart recipient, Charlotte native, opera singer and NASCAR fan Cpl. John Hyland will sing the national anthem. Cast members from “The A-Team”’ will deliver the green flag. The command “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines,” will be given by Grand Marshal John Falkenbury, USO of North Carolina President and COO, and the families of Sgt. James Dickens (U.S. Marine Corps); Staff Sgt. Michael Foley (U.S. Army) and Staff Sgt. Dustin Barnes (U.S. Air Force).
Additionally, the Presentation of Colors will be performed by the U.S. All Army Color Guard and a bagpipe performance of “Amazing Grace” will be given by the Charlotte Fire Department Pipes and Drums. A 21-gun salute and “Taps” will be performed by soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg. During the national anthem, 100 family members of service men and women from Fort Bragg will unfurl a large American flag shaped like the United States on the frontstretch grass. The final fly-over before the start of the Coca-Cola 600 will include four F-15 Eagles flown by pilots from the 333rd Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
Fans can purchase a ticket to the 51st running of the Coca-Cola to see not only a great race, but a patriotic and entertaining pre-race show. Tickets for all Coca-Cola 600 Week events are available at the gates on event days, online or by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.