NASCAR crew learns what drives basic training success

  • Published
  • By Patrick Desmond
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs
NASCAR driver Reed Sorenson, who drives the No. 43 Air Force-sponsored car, and his crew got a taste of a basic military trainee's life during a recent two-day visit to Lackland Air Force Base.

The tour was part of an effort by Air Force Recruiting Service officials to prepare Mr. Sorenson and the Gillett Everham Motorsports crew for the 2009 NASCAR season and educate them on what it means to be an Airman.

After learning about Lackland AFB and the basic military training mission, the racing team ate lunch at the 324th Training Squadron dormitory, received haircuts at the BMT Shoppette, exercised with combat controllers and tested their firearm proficiency on the 342nd TRS range. The visit finished at the parade grounds for the BMT graduation.

At age 23, Mr. Sorenson, a three-time nationwide series winner, gets behind the wheel of the Air Force-sponsored Dodge stock car for the first time at the famed Daytona Motor Speedway Feb. 15.

"All the crew guys understand that you are representing something a little bit different than a brand name," Mr. Sorenson said. "There is honor in it and we take it seriously, and we want to represent (the Air Force) well."

Mr. Sorenson does not have qualms about the No. 43 car crossing into the Air Force blue paint job.

"I feel good," he said. "They made it look like the sky so it's a pretty cool looking car. As long as it's fast we'll be good."

Along with having the Air Force as a primary sponsor, the agreement with what is now called Richard Petty Motorsports places Mr. Sorenson at the forefront of a new team.

"You know, looking back to last year, now that it has all come together, it's 10 times more exciting than we thought it was going to be as far as how much we've got going on," he said. "It's a big season for us."

After getting to know life as an Airman in the Air Force through visits to Lackland AFB and flying co-pilot in an F-15 Eagle Jan. 23 at Tyndall AFB, Fla., Mr. Sorenson drew a comparison.

"It definitely takes dedication," he said. "Just like racing does, it takes a lot of time out of your life but everybody seemed to enjoy what they did."

When talking about manning a machine that tops 200 mph on the racetrack, the man who's raced since he was six years old said, "That's what I do; I love it. Fear is (possibly) having to eject out of an F-15. I was a little worried about that."

Comment on this story (comments may be published on Air Force Link)

View the comments/letters page