As a part of the NASCAR Salutes program that pays tribute to the United States military, Hendrick Motorsports’ vice president Jeff Gordon and driver Kyle Larson paid a visit to Arlington National Cemetery where they laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith, Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter, and Representative Richard Hudson from the North Carolina eighth district were also on hand for the ceremonies.
The visit is a part of the Salute to Service leading up to Memorial Day and the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway at the end of the month. Coca Cola and NASCAR have partnered up to pay tribute to the military with live in person visits to military installations and virtual visits with members of the military stationed overseas.
NASCAR routinely offers passes to races to various members of the military and honours fallen heroes by placing their names on the cars for special races.
One of the largest cemeteries in the nation, Arlington has been the final resting place for military members since the American Revolution. It currently has over 400,000 residents.
While at Arlington, the group participated in a private viewing of historical artifacts from Arlington’s past and observed the solemn procession of the changing of the guard. Soldiers from the U.S. 3rd Infantry Regiment – The Old Guard – have stood watch 24 hours a day, no matter the weather, since 1948.
On his first ever visit to Arlington, reigning Coca Cola 600 winner Kyle Larson said, Seeing the ceremony for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was truly special – a huge honor. There is so much prestige with the 600. Then having a tradition like this just adds on to that.”
Larson added, “I’m proud to be here today, proud to pay my respects and get to feel the sense of honour here. As I get to come here and experience these things, it gives you even more of an appreciation for the men and women who have sacrificed their lives and are currently serving. Being here today, getting to shake the hands of so many people was special. I look forward to the 600 even more. I’m excited to get back there again. Hopefully I can win again and make another trip.”
Jeff Gordon also spoke on the visit saying, “tradition is obviously a big part of NASCAR, a big part of the Coca-Cola 600, being on Memorial Day weekend. I love that Charlotte Motor Speedway and NASCAR are coming together to bring the past champion of this event here to Arlington. Seeing the changing of the guard, laying that wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it really speaks volumes and connects what the 600 means to families out there who have lost a loved one in battle and those who are currently serving. I wish that they had done this when I was still driving. This is something that I’m sure is going to become a tradition for a very long time.”
feature photo credit: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier- Arlington National Cemetery.jpg