50th Coca-Cola 600 Pre-Race Festivities to Feature Military Salute; Bobby Allison, Franklin Graham and Shawn Johnson also to Participate
During the pre-race show for the 50th 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 special presentation with Medal of Honor recipients. The pre-race festivities will also include a parade lap by Bobby Allison, an inspirational message from Franklin Graham and appearances on stage by Miss USA Kristen Dalton and "Dancing with the Stars" winner and Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson.
Gates will open at 11 a.m. Below is an approximate timeline of the events:
Coca-Cola 600 Grand Marshal Bobby Allison will take a ceremonial parade lap around the speedway in the No. 12 Coca-Cola-sponsored 1969 Mercury Cyclone he drove to victory in the 1971 Coca-Cola 600.
Nine Medal of Honor recipients will be honored on the pre-race stage.
Honorees include World War II veteran, Charles Murray Jr.; Korean War veterans Hector Cafferata Jr. and Rudolfo Hernandez; and Vietnam War veterans John Baker Jr., Robert Howard, Leonard Keller, Gary Littrell, Walter Marm and Robert Patterson. The Medal of Honor recipients will also be honored at a dinner in the Speedway Club on Friday.
World-renowned evangelist and North Carolina-native Franklin Graham will deliver a 30-minute inspirational message to fans from the pre-race stage located at the superspeedway's start-finish line, and it will be broadcast on the speedway's public address system. Graham will deliver the invocation before the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," and he will also assist with Motor Racing Outreach's Sunday service to the drivers and team members in the garage.
Fans will be entertained by the Marine Marching Band, Navy Rock Band, U.S.
Air Force Tops in Blue and the 82nd Airborne Division Chorus.
The U.S. Army will conduct a military demonstration on the frontstretch involving Blackhawk helicopters, military vehicles, a Howitzer demonstration and more than 2,000 troops. The forces will secure the frontstretch ballfield and a Chinook helicopter will make a special delivery that will include a U.S. flag that was flown over the headquarters of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq.
A host of VIPs will grace the pre-race stage prior to driver introductions, including Miss USA Kristen Dalton, Honorary Race Official Shawn Johnson and Grand Marshal Bobby Allison.
Following driver introductions, the Black Daggers, the official U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team, will perform a jump over the speedway.
Additionally, the Presentation of Colors and "21-Gun Salute" will be performed by soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg. "Taps" will be performed by the 82nd Airborne Division Bugler from Fort Bragg. During the national anthem, 100 family members of service men and women will unfurl a large American flag that's shaped like the United States on the frontstretch grass. The Air Force Tops in Blue band will perform the national anthem. The pre-race flyover will feature four F-15s from the 122nd Fighter Squadron and 159th Fighter Wing of the Louisiana Air National Guard.
Fans can purchase a ticket to the 50th 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 or by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket services department at 1-800-455-FANS.