WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 28, 2010) -- For the sixth consecutive year, NASCAR drivers, officials and vehicles made a pit stop at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Sept. 23, on their way to Dover International Speedway for the AAA 400.
During their visit they paid tribute to the troops by visiting with and signing autographs for wounded warriors.
A dinner for the servicemembers and their families was hosted by NASCAR, and country-pop singer Jessie James performed a concert in Walter Reed's Wagner Sports Center.
"It was great coming to Walter Reed," said driver David Ragan after visiting the Military Advanced Training Center at Walter Reed. "It's certainly an eye-opening experience. A lot of young men and women are risking their lives everyday to protect our land and allow the NASCAR community to go out and do what we do."
The drivers had an opportunity to meet and interact with servicemembers injured in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom
"I got to meet a lot of interesting guys and girls and hear a lot of great stories," Ragan said. "They are pretty brave to be doing what they do."
There is no shortage of NASCAR fans at Walter Reed, and the drivers look forward to coming back again soon, he added.
During the day, the high-octane vehicles used by the drivers sat on display in front of Walter Reed's Abrams Hall where many wounded warriors live.
The Walter Reed community was able to get an up-close look at the vehicles usually seen as mere blurs that zoom around race track ovals at speeds that exceed 200 miles per hour.
"The hospital is very special," said Juan Pablo Montoya, another NASCAR driver. "I was really amazed with the attitude of all the guys there."
The troops at Walter Reed are an inspiration because they could easily complain and moan about things, but they remain so incredibly positive, Montoya added.