NASCAR driver gets flight of life

  • Published
  • By Capt. Amy Bartholomew
  • Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs
NASCAR driver Reed Sorenson got the ride of his life in an F-15 Eagle as part of the Air Force's new partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports Jan. 23 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

The incentive flight piloted by Capt. Dustin Ripley of the 95th Fighter Squadron was part of an effort by Air Force Recruiting Service to prepare Mr. Sorenson for the 2009 NASCAR season and educate him on what it really means to be an Airman.

"Taking a ride in an Air Force jet is unlike any training I've done for NASCAR," Mr. Sorenson said. "I have great respect for the Air Force, and I'm honored to represent them in the No. 43 car."

The incentive flight was followed this week by a two-day visit to San Antonio where Mr. Sorenson met with Air Force trainees going through Basic Military Training and attended a graduation.

"We wanted Reed to learn about the Air Force firsthand, and there is no better way to do that than flying with an Air Force unit," said Col. Tim Hanson, the AFRS Strategic Communications Division director. "Reed and his crew chief, Mike Shiplett, met dozens of Airmen and talked about the similarities of launching a fighter mission or preparing a winning race car. Both take dedicated professionals and lots of teamwork. We are confident the experience helped give Reed and Mike a better understanding and appreciation for the Airmen they will represent on the track."

While at Tyndall AFB, Mr. Sorenson and his crew chief were filmed for a series of webisodes in which the NASCAR men compare notes with Air Force pilots. The series, "Switching Seats," is set to debut on in March 2009. This campaign, in addition to sponsorship agreements and all Air Force national advertising, is handled by Austin-based GSD&M Idea City.

In November 2008, the Air Force announced both a primary and associate sponsorship with Richard Petty Motorsports, formerly known as Gillett Evernham Motorsports, for the No. 43 car driven by Mr. Sorenson. As a primary sponsor, the car will feature the Air Force paint scheme in four of 38 NASCAR races this season. 

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