Charlotte Motor Speedway is joining with business leaders from around the country to honor some 10,000 active military and family members before the green flag drops on NASCAR’s ultimate test of man and machine, the May 26Coca-Cola 600, as part of a Memorial Day weekend saluting the U.S. Armed Forces. The day of tribute will feature a special celebration luncheon hosted by John Schnatter, founder, chairman and CEO of Papa John’s International, where more than 3,000 pizzas will be served to the military guests.
“We are excited to partner with Charlotte Motor Speedway to honor the heroes of the US military and their families,” said Schnatter. “This is just one small way of saying ‘thank you’ for the sacrifice they and their families are making every day to defend our freedom.”
The star-studded affair will be emceed by HLN’s Robin Meade, and will include special appearances by Lt. Col. Oliver North (ret), a political commentator, television host, military historian and New York Times best-selling author; Kurt Busch, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet; Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway and Papa John himself. The event will be held at zMAX Dragway from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and also feature live music and a drag racing exhibition with Smith and Papa John.
Hundreds of the troops will then be loaded onto buses courtesy of the speedway’s Patriot Partners program where companies such as Toyota, Papa John’s, Goodyear, Coca-Cola, Bojangles’ and more sponsored their transportation from area military bases. More than 30 Patriot Partner buses will then take a parade lap around the legendary 1.5-mile superspeedway as part of a patriotic “Welcome Home Our Troops” pre-race show. Fans will be able to salute the troops when 600 soldiers march through the grandstands to participate in the pre-race ceremonies. The show will also include an air parade featuring during the national anthem performed by Robin Meade and a 21-gun salute by the Fort Bragg firing squad.
“What better way to honor all of the men and women who serve to protect our freedoms than to welcome them home and give them a great big bear hug from more than 100,000 fans on hand for the Coca-Cola 600,” Smith said. “We’re excited to have such supportive partners like Papa John’s to make this Memorial Day weekend one that military members, their families and all of our fans will never forget.”