The Daytona experience for our traveling soldiers has been a huge success so far. Our boys have been exposed to races, camping, behind the scenes events and even serving on the pit crew for Peterson Motorsports. Yesterday, our heroes received the cherry on top in the form of the Richard Petty Experience.
“It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done,” said Master Corporal Joseph Lavoie.
At 3pm on Monday, local time, our four traveling soldiers took to the tarmac at Daytona International Speedway for a quick lesson in racing basics and 8 laps of high speed action. After the tutorial the new racers were taken on the track and led around the loop by a pace car. Drivers are allowed to go as fast as the pace car. Master Cpl. Lavoie claimed top speed among our troops with a speedometer reading of 148.02 miles per hour.
“It was fun to go that fast legally. I’ve always wanted to see what I can do,” added Lavoie.
According to Joe, a longtime racing fan, driving the world renowned track was amazing.
“It’s like a little kids dream”.
“We even had dinner with some of the race staff. That was pretty cool,” he said.
The Richard Petty Experience may have been the cherry, but it certainly wasn’t the only notable event from the week abroad. Taking part in the pits with Peterson Motorsports and camping rank high on the list as well.
“The ARCA race and Peterson Motorsports have been amazing. There is too much to tell,” added Lavoie. “We’ve seen how a race team functions.
According to Joe, the electricity and reality of being in the heat of the pits is surreal.
“One of our jobs was to catch the tires (as they are replaced). To actually get behind that crew wall during a race… I can’t even think of the words for how happy we are,” said Lavoie. “Being part of that crew was a life altering experience”.
Apparently our soldiers have been well received in general.
“Everyone has been so nice here. It’s heartening. People find out that we are Afghan Veterans and they say thank you. I hope more soldiers get to experience just how amazing this is. We all wanted this badly,” finished Lavoie.
The week isn’t over yet and hopefully our boys will get to see and do even more.
Check back once the boys are back in the Great White North. We will be doing a more detailed interview with all four soldiers and posting it along with additional pics from the days in Daytona.
Thanks as always to our troops. Hope you guys had fun!