NASCAR has long had a close relationship with the United States military and are quick with support initiatives and charity events.

As Charlotte Motor Speedway prepares to present the annual Memorial Day weekend Coca-Cola 600; they are also kicking off the annual Mission 600.

23XI Racing co-owner and JGR driver Denny Hamlin is also a member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family and was on hand via zoom to join the U.S. Army Central and the 163rd Calvary Regiment form Camp Buehring in Kuwait to help CMS kick off the 2022 Mission 600.

This year Mission 600 will be honouring the men and women of the U.S. military by joining drivers with various bases to help educate the NASCAR community – drivers, crews, and fans – on what it is like to be in the military.

While they were separated by nearly seven thousand miles, Hamlin and the soldiers in Kuwait found much to discuss in the hour long conversation that ranged from teamwork and leadership to training regiments and even the differences between a tank and the new Next Gen car that included a inner workings tour of the M1A1 Abrams tank.

After the tour in the tank, the crews peppered Hamlin with numerous questions about being a co-owner in the series and balancing that with being a driver; as well as, how Hamlin prepares to spend several hours in a car whose inside temperatures can reach over 125 degrees.

Hamlin noted, “what the normal person would not be able to do inside of our cars, deal with the heat.  Maybe you guys, because it does not look cool inside those tanks. But you know, it’s 130 to 140 (degrees) in the car usually. And we’re in there for four hours and there’s not AC blowing or anything like that.”

One of the soldiers noted that 130 degrees was what it feels like outside in the desert.

Hamlin’s Mission 600 kickoff visit was one of six such ventures that will feature Daniel Suarez with the Coast Guard, Austin Dillon and Fort Bragg, Joey Logano will go virtual with the Air Force, Kurt Busch at Camp Lejeune, and Kyle Larson at Arlington National Cemetery.

Executive vice president and general manger of CMS Greg Walter spoke on the program saying, “the connection of our military and our driving community and fans really embodies what the Coca-Cola 600 is all about.  One of the wonderful things about our sport is the sense of patriotism that our fans have, that our athletes like Denny have — a true appreciation for what our servicemen and women do each and every day. What Mission 600 does is bring those two worlds together.”

feature photo credit: Coca-Cola 600 DVIDS410350.jpg