Thursday , 17 October 2019

NASCAR’s Kurt Busch Spends ‘Pretty Wild’ Day With Marines

Race Car Driver Faced Intense Orientation Ahead of Coca-Cola 600

What did your Tuesday look like? A lot of the same ole’, same ole’ at work? For famed NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, his day was anything but normal – and that’s saying something – since he got to spend it with some of the most intense Marines around.

Gearing up for NASCAR

Going fast on land, sea and air. 🏎🚤🚁NASCAR driver Kurt Busch sped around with #Marines during his visit to Camp Lejeune as part of NASCAR orientation day for drivers who will be honoring the U.S. Military at the #CocaCola600.

Posted by U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Video by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Gordon

Busch was at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, meeting with Marines and following in their footsteps as part of another NASCAR orientation day for race car drivers who will be honoring the U.S. military at the Coca-Cola 600 race over Memorial Day weekend.

So what did the Marine Corps have in store for Busch? It was anything but relaxing, that’s for sure!

Kurt Busch (left) poses with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion Marines during his insertion mission on orientation day. DoD photo by Steve Ellmore

Busch’s day started when he met with Marine Corps Lt. Col. Christopher L. Bopp, the commanding officer of the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, the unit Busch will be representing at the Memorial Day race.

From there, Busch, who won the Daytona 500 in 2017 and has earned several major accolades over his 17-year career, got to test out a free fall simulator. He was strapped into a harness above the ground and given virtual reality goggles, which enhance the feeling of freefalling, before simulating pulling the parachute cord and steering his way to the landing zone.

Next, Busch put on a Marine Corps uniform and was ready for a boat ride. But not just any boat – he hopped into a combat rubberized raiding craft before being “inserted” into a scenario that had him and the Marines he was following barreling out of the woods to breach the enemy, slogging through jungle-like conditions that included mud, machetes and barbed wire.

“It’s an eye-opening experience,” Busch said. “I mean, we’re cutting things with machetes. It was pretty wild.”

Busch (right) slogs through ankle-high water during an insertion mission that was part of his Marine Corps orientation training. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Gordon

By then, Busch and the crew had worked up an appetite, so they were able to grab lunch on the go like any Marine would – with a meal ready to eat (MRE). His was the classic chili mac.

Our Tweet says he enjoyed the experience, but his face said otherwise….

After lunch, Busch got schooled on sniper rifles before gearing up to the nines in body armor so he could try shooting some himself, including the M40A5 he’s aiming in the tweet below.

Afterward, Busch was presented with a Marine Corps flag signed by the Marines with whom he’d trained. He offered them two signed flags in return – a signed Marine Corps flag and one from Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the Coca-Cola 600 is held every year.

Busch ended the day with a 30-minute ride in a UH-1 Huey helicopter. He even got strapped into a gunner’s belt so he could move around in it.

“It’s insane the amount of focus and attention that each person has on that chopper,” Busch explained after the ride. “They gave me a camera where the guns would be, and I used a joystick to control things – zoom in, go through infrared. There was so much going on. … It’s mind-blowing, the technology and commitment they have and the heart everybody gives toward their specific role.”

For the Marines who showed him around, the experience was anything but routine.

“It’s nice to be able to showcase our capabilities a little bit, let people into what we do on a day-to-day basis and some of the training that we go through regularly,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Christopher Erbe. “It means a whole lot, having someone like Kurt Busch who’s a high-visibility athlete … take time out of his day to come and visit with us. I know all the Marines, as well as myself, appreciate it.”

Busch poses with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion Marines. DoD photo by Steve Ellmore

“I can’t wait to see all these guys out on the track,” Busch said – also joking that he was pretty beat from the experience. “I’ve been through a lot today. I’m starting to feel it. I also still have wet feet from when we were out on the boat, doing the patrol on in. So, I’m ready for some warm socks.”

Now that Busch knows a tiny bit about what a day in the boots of a Marine feels like, he’ll be ready to represent them on the track in a few weeks!

“It was a privilege to be here today to experience what our top-trained professionals do to protect our freedoms,” Busch said. “To experience it with them and be right along-side them – it’s an adrenaline rush like no other.”

Kurt Busch jumps in a military vehicle during his Marine Corps orientation day. DoD photo by Steve Ellmore

Earlier this month, NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski got to check out some of the Navy’s most elite sources of transportation at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, while Austin Dillon and his pit crew got to take on the Army’s vehicles and rappelling tower at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Next up: Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. will take on the Air Force!

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