Zooms National Guard
Into New Racing Dimension
Driver Vitor Meira; Maj. Gen. Ray Carpenter, special assistant
to the director of the Army National Guard; and Panther Racing
team owner John Barnes unveil the new 230-mph, No. 4 National
Guard IndyCar at the Army National Guard Readiness Center,
at Arlington Hall in Arlington, Va., June 25, 2008. The National
Guard is participating in the Indy Racing League for the
Army Photo / Photo by Jim Greenhill
Virginia — A new relationship with IndyCar promises to propel
National Guard recruiting forward and give citizen-soldiers
a more personal interest in another sport.
The new 230-mph, No. 4 National Guard IndyCar was unveiled
at the Army National Guard Readiness Center at Arlington
Hall here last week.
been involved with NASCAR for a number of years,” said
Maj. Gen. Ray Carpenter, special assistant to the director
of the Army National Guard. “This is the next step in
racing for us. It’s a great, great opportunity for us
to showcase our National Guard capability in a different forum.
It’s a great, great step forward.
benefit for us is that it provides another venue for us to
tell the National Guard story and reach out to a target population.”
Vitor Meira for Panther Racing team owner John Barnes, the
Dallara IR car has a 3.5-liter Honda Indy V-8 engine and runs
a visit to wounded Guard members at Brooke Army Medical Center,
in San Antonio, was the moment he truly understood what the
National Guard stands for.
gaining so much from every soldier I meet,” he said. “It’s
something very different than other sponsors. We pass the message
on — a message of honor, a message to be proud and stand for
the great things this country stands for. I’m really
honored to drive the National Guard car. The soldiers influence
me. If I drove as good as they perform their duty every day,
I would be in the winner’s circle every time.”
common ground between the training he must do and the training
soldiers do. “Training is everything in life,” he
said. “Soldiers and the Guard are a statement of that.
The amount that they train and how well they perform their
duty is a statement that training is everything.”
and the spirit of competition are among Meira’s driving
forces. “It’s my way of life,” he said. “It’s
not work. It’s something I was doing as a kid – something
I would pay to do and now get paid to do.”
Guard was the car’s primary sponsor at Richmond International
Raceway on June 28 and is also scheduled to be on July 6 at
Watkins Glen International in New York, on Aug. 9 at the Kentucky
Speedway and on Sept. 7 at the Chicagoland Speedway.
hosts up to 200 Guard members at each race. Owner John Barnes
is in his 42nd year of racing, and he said he’s come
full circle: The racing driver who was his father’s best
friend and best man and who inspired Barnes to enter the world
of the track himself was a National Guardsman.
to have the National Guard support my team is unbelievable,” he
said, “something I never dreamed of.”
race car drivers are called heroes, Barnes said.
true heroes work in this building, and they work at the Guard
units across the country, whether it’s taking care of
floods or tornadoes or whatever,” Barnes said. “Every
day, 17 governors call the Guard to activate them for something
or other, and to know that we have that support as American
citizens is just incredible. It’s the framework of our
country, and it’s an honor to be a part of that.”
car has 18 races scheduled in the 2008 IndyCar series, including
appearances in Australia, Canada and Japan.
like this have contributed to the Army National Guard going
from 330,000 end strength in June of 2005 to 358,000-plus today,” Carpenter
said. “There’s not been any single silver bullet
here. It’s taken a collection of NASCAR racing, of what
we’re doing here with Indy racing and all of the rest
of the things we’ve got out there — the Guard Recruiting
Assistance Program [and] Active First — have all come together
and made this happen.”