ARLINGTON, VA (WFXR) – Wednesday, as a prelude to its Memorial Day Weekend salute to the troops, Charlotte Motor Speedway hosted defending Coca-Cola 600 winner Brad Keselowski for a poignant visit to Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for more than 400,000 individuals, including servicemen and women from every major United States conflict since the American Revolution.
The Team Penske driver and longtime supporter of the military was joined by Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation Vice President Paige Keselowski, Speedway Motorsports’ President and CEO Marcus Smith, Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter and Rep. Richard Hudson, congressman from North Carolina’s eighth district, which includes Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The group enjoyed a private viewing of artifacts that paint the rich history of Arlington National Cemetery in the Memorial Display Room and watched a changing-of-the-guard ceremony at the iconic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At the tomb, which marks its centennial anniversary in 2021, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, United States Army, known as “The Old Guard,” stand watch 24 hours a day, as they have since 1948. Later, they visited the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy, who joins William Howard Taft as the only two presidents buried in the premier military cemetery. The day ended with a private tour of the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense.
“We’re here to recognize service men and service women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, which is a lot of what Memorial Day is all about,” Keselowski said. “Of course, for us here in NASCAR, Memorial Day Weekend is about the Coca-Cola 600 and going out and running the longest race of the year, but we want to think of it a little deeper than that. With respect to that, we’re trying to start a new tradition here where the defending race winner comes to Arlington to show support for our country and for our military and really reflects on Memorial Day. It’s a very somber experience. It’s very humbling. But it’s well worth it and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Each Memorial Day Weekend, Charlotte Motor Speedway pays tribute to those men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice during a moving Coca-Cola 600 pre-race show that includes representation from all five branches of the military.
“Today’s visit truly connects us to what racing on Memorial Day Weekend really means,” said Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, the parent company that owns Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We salute all the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice and gone before us to make events like the Coca-Cola 600 possible. NASCAR Nation has the most patriotic fans in the entire world and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate our Armed Forces.”
In recent years, the speedway’s salute has expanded to include Mission 600, a month-long campaign pairing drivers with military bases designed to educate the NASCAR community about the day-to-day lives of the men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. More details are forthcoming on additional Mission 600 visits leading into next month’s Coca-Cola 600.
Limited tickets are still available for the May 30 Coca-Cola 600, with three-day packages starting at $99. Fans can purchase tickets online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267). Policies around social distancing, masks and additional safety protocols will be in place throughout race weekend in accordance with current state and local guidelines.