Military Connection Celebrated at NASCAR Coca-Cola 600
The connection between NASCAR and the armed forces was celebrated in style before the NASCAR 600 race. To start with Kurt Busch was flanked by Staff Sergeant Sabrina Rigney and Corporal Ryan Lamke both former military personal who has suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The reason for this was because he had dedicated his attempt at a double finish in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 to bring more awareness to former service men and women with this disorder. His girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll runs the Armed Forces Foundation. The Public Affairs Director for the organisation, Matthew Ballard explained that it was Kurt that had the idea to raise awareness and picked the particular honourees to dedicate the race to.
Most sports teams hold the military in high regard in the US and do what they can to honour veterans and NASCAR has particular ties with the military and they tend to display something with a military focus at every race. It is felt that the driver have a lot of respect for the military as many of them come from small towns that have great respect for military personnel. Lamke explained that the drivers are very patriotic but likewise the veterans enjoy watching the races too as they are so exciting. It is a particularly good environment for those suffering or recovering from post traumatic stress disorder as there is an overload of sensory information with sights, sounds and smells and it can even act as a group therapy session. On Sunday there were 15 veterans and their families treated to a behind the scenes look at what was going on which was all part of their therapy. They were able to meet drivers Joey Logano and Ryan Truex, have a look in the garage before the race started and also be on the pot road before the race started.