DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – During the upcoming Coke Zero 400 Weekend Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway, race fans will experience many patriotic salutes as the “World Center of Racing” celebrates the Independence Day holiday weekend.
One of those salutes will have very special meaning to a U.S. Naval carrier group just commencing deployment.
Earlier this year, Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III and Vice President of Operations Andrew Gurtis took a once-in-the-lifetime trip to the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), also known as IKE, aircraft carrier in the Atlantic Ocean.
Flying from Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Chitwood and Gurtis spent the night aboard the aircraft carrier, visited with sailors and presented a green flag autographed by all the drivers in this year’s Daytona 500 to the Commanding Officer, Captain Marcus Hitchcock.
In addition, Chitwood left an American flag on board the IKE with Captain Hitchcock. On June 20, the flag was flown on the first day of a nine-month deployment and has since been returned to DIS to be flown during the race weekend in the Sprint FANZONE. Also the shooter – the crew member who signals the planes for take-off – used the autographed green flag to signal the first flight off the carrier on this deployment.
“IKE deployed from Norfolk, VA on 20 June at 10:30 a.m.,” Captain Hitchcock said. “It was an awesome and proud day for the ship and crew. We are especially grateful to Daytona International Speedway and the entire Daytona community for their support and best wishes. We look forward to continued relations with Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR as we embark on an historic deployment.”
Chitwood expressed his joy with his experience with the IKE.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have that American flag returned to Daytona International Speedway to fly in the Sprint FANZONE,” Chitwood said. “It was incredible experience earlier this year to visit the IKE and meet the men and women who protect our rights and freedoms that allow us to enjoy NASCAR racing on our nation’s birthday.”
The stars of NASCAR return to Daytona International Speedway on July 6-7. Tickets to the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, featuring a special hour-long pre-race concert by multiplatinum, Grammy-winning superstars Train, and the Subway Jalapeno 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race are available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.
Also, don’t forget to take advantage of our special kids’ pricing. Kids 12 and under receive free general admission tickets to the Subway Jalapeno 250, free admission to the Sprint FANZONE all weekend long, and a $10 ticket for the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola while supplies last.
Also be sure to catch the Coke Zero 400 live from Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 7 at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter (@NASCAR) and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtags #NASCAR and #COKEZERO400. In addition, fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for all the latest news all season long.