Coca-Cola Racing Family Driver Ryan Newman Trains with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command
Today, as part of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Mission 600, Coca-Cola Family Racing driver Ryan Newman visited Camp Lejeune to learn from and train alongside members of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command (MARSOC). The day-long visit serves as a prelude to the upcoming Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend and to highlight the shared connections between NASCAR and the U.S. Armed Forces.
“It’s special, just to be close and in contact and hear the stories of the Marines, that’s what’s really special to me,” Newman said. “What hit me the most was the emotional side of the canine unit and the memorial to the people and the dogs that didn’t make it – what happens when we fight for our freedom… It’s important for me to pay attention, to spread the word and to make people understand because I know that I have taken a lot for granted when it comes to how and what goes into fighting for our freedom.”
The Roush Fenway Racing driver observed a demonstration at MARSOC’s David M. Sonka Multi-Purpose Canine Facility, featuring a group of highly trained dogs whose core capabilities range from explosive detection to tracking and protection. Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter donned a bite suit while Marines highlighted the mission capabilities of their K-9 unit in close-quarter scenarios.
An avid outdoorsman and hunter, Newman felt right at home on the MARSOC firing range, where he had the opportunity to fire a Glock-19 pistol and a powerful M4A1 rifle. After breaking for lunch, Mission 600 continued with a demonstration of equipment the unit would use to defuse an explosive device.
“Today was amazing because we were able to get a glimpse of what the Marines Special Operations Unit get to do every day,” Walter said. “What’s cool about Mission 600 is that we’re able to share that story – what they do to secure our freedoms – to put that against the backdrop of the Coca-Cola 600 and all that it represents.
“This unit has suffered a lot of losses since its formation because of the activities that they do. This makes you realize what Memorial Day is all about. You don’t want to lose sight of that as Americans, as NASCAR fans.”
The 2021 edition of Mission 600 kicked off at Arlington National Cemetery, where 2020 Coca-Cola 600 winner Brad Keselowski went to pay his respects last month. Newman joins fellow Coca-Cola Racing Family drivers Austin Dillon (Army Central Kuwait) and Daniel Suárez (U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder) in taking part in Mission 600. The final visit of this year’s campaign is scheduled for next week, when Joey Logano is slated to visit virtually with Armed Forces Network Japan.
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