NAVAL AIR STATION JACKSONVILLE, FL — NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt, Jr. traded his car for a jet and landed on the First Coast to meet with standout sailors and prepare for a ride on an aircraft carrier.
Trading his Chevy Impala for a private Learjet, Dale Jr., the driver of the Number 88 car in NASCAR’s top-tier Sprint Cup series, landed at NAS Jacksonville at around 9:55 Thursday morning.
After meeting with reporters, Earnhardt received a plaque and two NAS Jacksonville baseball caps from the base’s commanding officer, CAPT Jack Scorby.
Inside the air terminal, near the place where his Learjet was parked, Earnhardt met with 25 specially selected sailors, chosen from the 116 units located at NAS Jax.
The NASCAR star signed autographs and carried on conversations for about 20 minutes. It was a true thrill for Petty Officer Adam Linton.
“I got a hat for my senior chief. He’s about to retire on the 6th, so I got him a hat signed by him,” GM2 Linton said.
Earnhardt is gearing up to kick off a new recruiting drive with the US Navy, which sponsors the Number 88 car he owns that competes in NASCAR’s second-tier Nationwide series.
“It’s a tangible sponsorship, if you will, you’re not really kinda just running around hawking a product,” Earnhardt said. “I’m glad that they chose me to help them.”
Still, Earnhardt says his pairing with the Navy is not just about allegiance to the red, white, and blue — it’s also about good, old fashioned green.
“Our relationship mainly stems from that service that they provide us financially,” Earnhardt said.
The regular driver of that Navy-sponsored Number 88 car, Brad Keselowski, was along with Dale Jr. during his hourlong stopover at NAS Jax.
After meeting with sailors, the two drivers headed into a safety briefing to prepare for their flight to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Earnhardt and Keselowski were scheduled to spend a day onboard Theodore Roosevelt in the Atlantic off the First Coast and then return to dry land Wednesday night.
But as Earnhardt boarded a plane bound for the carrier, it seemed he’d much rather be back in his usual machine — riding not on air, but on four rubber tires.
The Navy’s new recruiting effort will officially kick off on May 24th, when Dale Jr. is scheduled to drive the Navy “Accelerate Your Life” Number 83 car that he owns during a race in NASCAR’s Nationwide series.
After that kickoff event, new Navy recruits will be able to sign up for a special Dale Jr. Division when they ship off to boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois.
The boot camp company will be made up of 88 new recruits, patterned after Earnhardt’s Number 88 Sprint Cup car.
During the recruits’ two months of training, Dale Jr. will visit them at boot camp and attend their graduation.
The Navy says the campaign is costing taxpayers about $800,000 and is aimed at both meeting its recruiting goals and also raising general awareness of Navy recruiting.
Source: First Coast News
Nice recruiting slogan! It almost makes me want to join except for the whole being a grandmother thing.