DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY, Fla. - -- It has been referred to by many as the “Super Bowl of Racing;” it is the culmination of more than 40 determined NASCAR drivers driving hundreds of miles at speeds upwards of 195 miles-per-hour. This event, better known as the 49th Annual NASCAR Daytona 500 Weekend, was held at Daytona International Speedway Feb. 17-18.
Marines and sailors of Tri-Command’s Single Marine and Sailor Program got the chance to experience NASCAR’s largest yearly race as well as the Daytona 300 from the Busch League Series, and watched as Kevin Harvick swept both races.
This opportunity was afforded to the SMP by the Group Sales and Promotion Department at the Daytona International Speedway, according to Jimmie Woods, the assistant coordinator for the Tri-Command Single Marine and Sailor Program.
“The SMP trips are a good way for Marines and sailors to build camaraderie with their fellow service members who share the same interests,” Woods said.
For a lot of these Marines and sailors it was their first SMP trip, but for others this was their second, or in some cases their third trip with the SMP, Woods explained.
“When Marines or sailors get involved with the SMP they can often get a discounted rate for events and activities,” Woods said. “Through the funding of the SMP we are able to provide our service members with more affordable opportunities to do events and activities than they normally would.”
The SMP can be a good way for service members to take a couple of days to just kick back, relax and to watch racing with other service members, explained Petty Officer 1st Class Kristofer Motosicky, a Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island corpsman.
“The Daytona 500 was a good race, I didn’t expect for (Harvick) to win both races though,” said Cpl. William Smith, an F/A-18 power plant mechanic with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31. “The entire weekend was nice; it gave me a chance to experience more than just Beaufort.”
Even if two service members don’t like the same car they can still share a bond through friendly competition, Motosicky explained.
“I really enjoy coming on these events; the SMP really helps us cover the cost of the weekend and I like meeting the other (Marines and sailors) NASCAR fans,” Smith said.
The race proved to be very exciting with several crashes and it even had a surprise finish where Harvick pushed ahead and passed Mark Martin on the last stretch of the track for the victory in the final seconds.
“That last 20 laps were filled with a lot of emotion, (Martin) was passed by Harvick on the last stretch of the last lap for the surprise win,” Motosicky said.
To suggest ideas for possible future events, or for more information about the SMP, contact Brett Westerfield, the Tri-Command SMP coordinator, at 228-1541 or 812-1245; or Jimmie Woods, the assistant SMP coordinator, at 228-7405 or 812 -4557.