Earlier this week, as part of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Mission 600, Coca-Cola Family Racing driver Austin Dillon and his Richard Childress Racing pit crew traded high-intensity workout routines with soldiers from U.S. Army Central Kuwait. The virtual gathering was designed to serve as a prelude to the upcoming Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend and to highlight the shared connections between NASCAR and the U.S. Armed Forces.
While the two groups were physically more than 6,800 miles apart – or the distance of more than 11 Coca-Cola 600s – they found common ground in the importance of physical exercise to success in their respective fields.
“When you think back to the Daytona 500 you won, think about how good that felt,” said Maj. Clarence Black from U.S. Army Central Kuwait. “All of the hours of training and preparation, all to culminate on probably what was your best day. For us, it’s different. When we train, we are training for combat, and that’s arguably our worst day – not something any of us ever want to do. We train hard so that we can survive and thrive on our worst day ever.”
During the Zoom meeting, members of U.S. Army Central Kuwait demonstrated several exercises that are part of Army Combat Fitness Training (ACFT), including deadlifts, power throws, sprint/drag/carry drills, among others. The unit then highlighted how those drills help prepare them for real-world scenarios on the battlefield.
“It’s awesome to see a lot of the workouts and how they apply to what they do,” Dillon said. “When we get in the gym and pit stop practice, all (my) guys are doing similar things to be the best they can be at their job.”
Following the military demonstrations, Richard Childress Racing strength and conditioning coach Jackson Meadows led Dillon and the No. 3 pit crew in a series of upper body workouts to show the soldiers how race teams use plyometric exercises to prepare themselves for the rigors of a pit stop.
“In pit stops, we are training the anaerobic system,” Meadows said. “Anaerobic systems are anything between 10-12 seconds. We are not conditioning. We are doing straight explosive power movements… to train us to be faster off the jump and faster out of kneeling positions.”
Dillon was the latest Coca-Cola Racing Family driver to participate in Mission 600, joining Daniel Suárez, who held a virtual visit with U.S. Coast Guard sailors last week. Mission 600 is scheduled to continue next week with Ryan Newman taking part in an in-person visit to Camp Lejeune. Later this month, Joey Logano is slated to visit virtually with Air Force Network Japan.