The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform the flyover for the 58th annual DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 21. It will be the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season opener after the completion of DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch redevelopment project that will transform Daytona International Speedway into the first motorsports stadium in the world.
The Thunderbirds will also commence the 2017 season with a flyover before the 59th annual DAYTONA 500. These performances will mark seven straight years, and eight total, that “America’s Ambassadors in Blue” – officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron – will exhibit their world-class talent and precise choreography flying their signature “Delta” formation over the “World Center of Racing” at the end of the national anthem for “The Great American Race.”
“We’re honored to have the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds join us for the DAYTONA 500 pre-race ceremonies the next two years,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race is being held in our new motorsports stadium and we will have the best stock car drivers in the world on the track; it’s only fitting that we have the best Airmen in the skies performing the flyover.”
"We're looking forward to flying over the DAYTONA 500 again this year," said Lt. Col. Christopher Hammond, Commander and Leader for the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron. "This event has kicked off our demonstration season for the past six years, and we're grateful for the partnership between the Speedway and the Thunderbirds. There's so much excitement involved with the race, and we're honored to share the pride and professionalism of our Air Force with so many great Americans."
The Thunderbirds feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft. Assigned to Air Combat Command, the squadron is composed of 12 officers and more than 120 enlisted personnel serving in nearly 30 Air Force job specialties. They have a rigorous schedule, performing hour-long demonstrations across the United States nearly 40 weekends between February and November.
Since the unit's inception in 1953, more than 350 million people in all 50 states and more than 60 countries have witnessed the distinctive red, white and blue jets in thousands of official aerial demonstrations.
Tickets for the 58th annual DAYTONA 500 are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.
Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com.
About the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
The official mission of the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron is to plan and present precision aerial maneuvers to exhibit the capabilities of modern, high-performance aircraft and demonstrate the high degree of professional skill required to operate those aircraft. The missions, objectives and goals of the Thunderbirds can be summarized into one word: ambassadors. The team is a group of traveling spokespersons for the Air Force, demonstrating a clear example of America’s air power. Performing at public venues tells the Air Force story, often to people in communities that have little interaction with America’s military.
About Daytona International SpeedwayDaytona International Speedway is the home of "The Great American Race" - the DAYTONA 500. Though the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup event garners most of the attention - as well as the largest audience in motorsports - the approximately 500-acre motorsports complex boasts the most diverse schedule of racing on the globe, thus earning it the title of "World Center of Racing." In addition to eight major weekends of racing activity, rarely a week goes by that the Speedway grounds are not used for events that include civic and social gatherings, car shows, photo shoots, production vehicle testing and police motorcycle training.