Kurt Busch Lives Day in the Life of a RECON Marine at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
Kurt Busch lived out a new version of adrenaline-pumping excitement on Tuesday, as the 2010 Coca-Cola 600 winner visited Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for an in-depth look at life as a RECON Marine. Busch's visit was part of Charlotte Motor Speedway's Mission 600 tour, which pairs some of NASCAR's biggest names with some of the region's most prominent military bases for an action-packed preview of Charlotte's patriotic Memorial Day weekend Salute to the Troops before the May 27 Coca-Cola 600.
Busch met with Marines and participated in a virtual reality suspended parachute drop and a sniper rifle shoot. As part of his visit, the driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford also rode in a rubberized water combat craft. For a lifelong racer who's driven everything from stock cars to Indy cars and dragsters, Busch's RECON Marine experience was one he won't soon forget.
"What an experience to be out here at Camp Lejeune with the Marines," Busch said. "It's a privilege to be here to experience what our top trained professionals do to protect our freedoms, and to experience it with them right alongside them. It's an adrenaline rush like no other. This all being new, it's like being a rookie out on the race track. You don't know what to expect."
Lt. Col. Chris Bopp said the Marines on base were thrilled to provide Busch with an in-depth look at what they do.
"I have quite a number of NASCAR fans in the unit, so they were pretty excited," Bopp said. "They found out that not only was he coming to visit, he was coming to find out what they do every day. They had the opportunity to put him in a boat, put him in a parachute simulator and take him on a short patrol to give him a chance to be with them and experience the things they do.
"That's where they were absolutely thrilled to say, 'Here's what I do as Marines, as sailors in this unit,' and to get the chance to share that with Kurt was just an amazing feeling. A lot of the Marines are running around the battalion really thrilled about it … He did a great job. He jumped in willingly and did everything the Marines put forth. I even watched him tackle the Meal Ready to Eat (MRE), which is pretty entertaining."
Busch said the visit was a tremendous primer for the patriotic Salute to the Troops coming before the Coca-Cola 600 on May 27.
"(Memorial Day) is about respect and for all of us as U.S. citizens, it's a thank-you to our military to have this chance to visit Camp Lejeune," Busch said. "Thanks to Charlotte Motor Speedway and everybody that has put this together with NASCAR. It's an eye-opening experience to shoot a rifle, come barreling through the woods and come out to breach the enemy. That's all after a boat ride through an area in the woods. We're cutting things with machetes. It was pretty wild. That's as close to the experience as you can get, except there weren't any bullets whizzing by me."
Other drivers scheduled to appear for Mission 600 are Darrell "Bubba" Wallace, the driver of the No. 43 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base on Wednesday and Alex Bowman and the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 pit crew at U.S. Coast Guard Station Wrightsville Beach on May 17.
As part of the salute to the military, race fans are encouraged to use the hashtag #KnowYourMil.
Through the speedway's "Patriot Partners" program, race fans or corporate customers can buy a Coca-Cola 600 race ticket to send a member of the U.S. Armed Forces to America's Home for Racing for just $25.