McDowell Visits Fort Campbell Ahead ofAlly 400 Race Weekend

NASCAR Cup Series driver Michael McDowell recently visited Fort Campbell to experience a day in the life of a soldier while engaging with our nation’s finest ahead of Nashville Superspeedway’s Ally 400 NASCAR race weekend (June 28-30). The visit generated exposure for the NASCAR Salutes Together with Coca-Cola initiative to more than 250,000 people affiliated with the military in the Clarksville area. 

Fort Campbell, the Army post at the Kentucky-Tennessee border, organized a day of activities for McDowell. The day featured lively discussions between McDowell and the soldiers, highlighting the strong connection between the military and NASCAR communities. McDowell also shared racing stories and life advice with young soldiers, and he signed memorabilia.

During McDowell’s visit, he visited the Gabriel Field memorial, toured the base and participated in shooting practice at the firing range. He also got a firsthand look at some training by the 101st Airborne Division, the only air assault division in the U.S. Army.

Nicknamed the Screaming Eagles, the 101st has demonstrated the highest standards of military professionalism since its activation in 1942. The 101st is recognized for its unmatched Air Assault capability, its ability to execute any combat or contingency mission anywhere in the world and is still proving its mettle as “tomorrow’s division in today’s Army.”

McDowell got a little taste of those futuristic methods by using the Virtual Combat Training System to virtually drive military vehicles and shoot select artillery. A little more old-school was his work on conquering his discomfort with heights — by rappelling from a 30-foot Air Assault tower.

Honoring history
One purpose of McDowell’s visit was to reconnect with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Special Forces soldiers are renowned for their ability to deploy in small teams, operate independently and conduct their mission in austere environments. 

The 5th Special Forces and McDowell already share an incredible relationship and history. In 2019, during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, drivers in the race carried the names of fallen service members on their windshields.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, a fallen 37-year-old father of four was McDowell’s co-pilot for the race. McDowell was able to reunite at Fort Campbell with those who continue to honor the memory of Farmer. He served proudly with the 5th Special Forces Group. 

“It’s a really special, humbling time to go hear stories and to see their faces light up when they talked about memories. Officer Farmer had four children. He was a few years older than I am. He gave up watching his kids grow up. He gave up watching them graduate high school and get married and he did it for us. That makes it very real,” McDowell said of his visit with Farmer’s comrades in 2019. “None of this would be available to us if we didn’t have the freedom we have in the United States and that freedom isn’t free.”

Farmer, a distinguished Special Forces assistant detachment commander, died Jan. 16, 2019, of wounds sustained during an attack while conducting a local engagement in Manbij, Syria.

Farmer was with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) throughout his career and exhibited unwavering commitment and expertise during his extensive and varied combat experience. He completed nine overseas combat tours, including missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve. 

Farmer, a native of Boynton Beach, Florida, dedicated nearly 14 years of exemplary service to the U.S. Army. His legacy is one of exceptional service, sacrifice, and dedication to his country.

NASCAR Salutes Together
Throughout its 75-year history, NASCAR has partnered with numerous groups and organizations. But perhaps no collaboration has carried more significance than the sport’s relationship with the United States military. From pre-race flyovers to the annual Coca-Cola 600 Memorial Day Weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR and the armed forces have seemingly been joined at the hip. 

The sport celebrates its close ties with the military thanks to the NASCAR Salutes initiative, paying homage to some of those close ties this weekend during the Ally 400 race weekend:

  • NASCAR Troops to the Track, presented by Chevrolet, honors and pays tribute to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces by inviting service members from local military installations to VIP experiences at NASCAR races, including hosting military personnel at Nashville Superspeedway.
  • Ford Motor Company will pay tribute to veterans and active service members in a special pre-race moment, including several specially wrapped vehicles ahead of the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway.

NASCAR Salutes Together with Coca-Cola officially kicked off last month during the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. The campaign culminates celebrating the service and sacrifice of U.S. military members and their families through a multitude of at-track integrations, original content features and fan engagement opportunities through the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 30. Fans can visit to learn more.