CONCORD, NC – This weekend marked the 54th running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the longest race of the NASCAR season. However, it also marked the annual gathering and honoring of America’s true heroes. As Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North said, “America’s true heroes where helmets and combat boots”. Those in attendance Sunday were provided a moving salute to the men and women who serve our great country.
North, a combat decorated U.S. Marine and host of ‘War Stories’ on Fox News Channel, said “what the NRA and NASCAR are doing at the Coca-Cola 600 should be replicated all across our land.” He was almost right. I walked around the track and the infield all weekend meeting fans from across the country and as I reflected on North’s words, I decided that what the team at Charlotte Motor Speedway does on an annual basis shouldn’t be limited to the U.S. NASCAR truly is an example that we should replicate around the world.
Where else would you find people from such diverse backgrounds, both socially, economically and geographically gather together and within the infield become neighbors for a weekend. The relationships you find are ones that we could build a foundation on. After all, these are fans that will sit next to one another in the stands and pull against one another’s driver and then slap high fives with each other when something exciting happens – and no one provides a reason to celebrate more than Charlotte Motor Speedway.
I met a fan on pit road this weekend who was attending the third race of her lifetime and the first since 1996, the last race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Having never been down to pit road, she was in awe, telling me that this was one of the most exciting things she had ever done. We arranged to speak to one another after the race to discuss her experience. When I talked to her after the event, the excitement hadn’t left her voice. She explained that she typically prefers to watch racing on TV, which allows better views. However, she loved seeing all that happens ‘behind the scenes’, including the pre-show, which she said moved her and the world’s largest TV allowed her to see the angles she has grown accustomed to. Her only disappointment was that she feared the night would be remembered for a failed camera rather than the racing on the track.
Some will argue that the Indianapolis 500 is the main event of the day, but I am a NASCAR fan and more importantly, I am an American. So, I can’t imagine a Memorial Day away from the Coca-Cola 600 and away from honoring so many of America’s finest. If only those that hate America would journey to Charlotte one May and see what America truly is about, perhaps this world would be a better place.
Do yourself a favor, take a minute to say thank you to someone who is wearing or has worn this country’s uniform, not just on Memorial Day, but every day and book a trip to Charlotte next year to take in what every fan of racing and every American should experience.