Itâs common to hear the roar of an F-15E Strike Eagle in the skies above North Carolina, however there was a different type of engine making noise on Seymour Johnsonâs flightline Dec. 5, 2019.
Members of Richard Childress Racing were excited to bring one of NASCAR hall of famer Dale Earnhardt Sr.âs original race cars to SJAFB as a token of appreciation for Airmen who continue to serve and protect this nation. The car was placed side-by-side with a Strike Eagle bearing a similar number â3â, which was given by Senior Airmen Joe Robinson and Jairic Moses, 335th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E Strike Eagle dedicated crew chiefs, while on a deployment earlier this year.
âWe were approved to do nose art over there [while deployed] and we were like, âLetâs change the name of itâ and went with a NASCAR theme, this [No. 3] being one of the more notable numbers in NASCAR,â said Robinson.
Formerly named âLady Libertyâ, the new jet was named âIntimidatorâ, a nickname earned by Earnhardt during his racing career. Nose art on aircraft is traditional while in a deployed environment as way to boost morale and give Airmen a stronger connection to the mission.
âIt put a smile on everyoneâs face,â said Robinson. âFrom the wing commander to the aircrew flying to everyone working on it.â
Jerry Hailey, RCR promotions and safety manager and former pit-crew member for Earnhardt, was grateful for the opportunity to show his gratitude to the Airmen. The car displayed at SJAFB was retired in 1998, after racing at ISM Raceway, formerly known as Phoenix Raceway, and placing third, which by Earnhardtâs standards, wasnât good enough. But a charged battery and a fresh tank of gas brought the car to life, despite 20 years of not being driven.
âThis was absolutely wonderful to see Dale Earnhardt honored with the number on the side of the jet and for us to come out here and say thank you for everything that the Air Force does for us, protecting our rights that we enjoy every day,â said Hailey. âItâs something a lot of people take for granted and I know itâs something our RCR family does not.â
Airmen were able to take photos, sit in the car and feel the rumble of the engine as it was fired up.
Hailey met Robinson and Moses, prior to receiving a tour of the jet that was named after Earnhardt.
âItâs unbelievable to see this thing [F-15E] in person,â said Hailey. âKnowing that machine is protecting the rights we have, our freedoms that we enjoy, is something that we just canât take for granted, so to be able to honor the military is very special to us.â
Robinson expressed he was grateful to be able to see one of the cars that inspired him to design the Strike Eagleâs art.
âItâs definitely cool that they were able to do this,â said Robinson. âI never thought it would go this far, I didnât think Iâd ever sit in an actual race car. Itâs something Iâll never forget.â
While the rumble of a NASCAR may be loud, it canât compare to the sound of freedom produced by our very own Strike Eagles.
|Date Posted:||12.10.2019 17:12|
|Location:||SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, NC, USÂ|