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    NASCAR’s Denny Hamlin visits Naval Station Norfolk

    NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin visits Naval Station Norfolk

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Cameron Stoner | 190411-N-UB406-0007 NORFOLK (April 11, 2019) Denny Hamlin, a NASCAR driver and winner...... read more read more



    Story by Seaman Cameron Stoner 

    Navy Public Affairs Support Element East - (Active)

    The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) hosted a NASCAR driver for a visit pierside at Naval Station Norfolk April 11.

    Denny Hamlin, the 2019 winner of the Daytona 500 and a native of Chesterfield, Virginia, visited the ship to kick-off the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s “Mission 600,” which is a series of interactive educational visits for some of NASCAR’s top drivers to visit regional military bases.

    The visits are part of a collaboration with the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Department of Defense which culminates with the Coca-Cola 600, which will include the names of fallen servicemembers on every race car’s windshield.

    “My most memorable moment was going to look at the radar, where they do the tactical side of things, identifying the enemy, pointing the weapons at them and firing,” said Hamlin. “That part of it is just amazing. To see all those people in communication with each other, identifying which targets are good, which targets are bad, and going after them.”

    Sailors aboard San Jacinto welcomed Hamlin as he toured their ship to learn about the capabilities of the Navy.

    “I thought it was neat that a NASCAR superstar would come and see what we do on a daily basis,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 3rd Class Dustin Slade. “I hope he felt the hospitality and our open arms here. He’s always welcome back on the greatest warship in the Navy.”

    Throughout Hamlin’s time aboard, he interacted with Sailors, asking questions about shipboard life and answering questions about his time racing for NASCAR. He also signed autographs and took pictures with fans.

    When he wasn’t busy speaking with the Sailors or signing autographs, Hamlin
    participated in a firefighting training exercise to see what it feels like for Sailors fighting fires onboard ships.

    “I think him coming onboard is pretty cool, it shows they actually care about us and what we’re doing out here on the battlefront, waterfront, or wherever a service member may be,” said Machinist Mate’s 2nd Class Brannon Soles. “Since I did the firefighting portion with him, I hope he comes away with more respect for the guys who are running into burning buildings or on the ship with 40 to 50 pounds of extra gear on their back.”

    Hamlin also spent time touring the ship’s bridge with Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Kyle Kelly, the ship’s master helmsman, who showed Hamlin how Sailors control the steering of the ship and navigate while out to sea.

    “He came up to the ship’s bridge and I got to show off my ship’s control console to him,” said Kelly. “We got his hands on the wheel of a warship instead of a NASCAR.”

    After the tour, Hamlin visited the Navigation, Seamanship and Shiphandling Trainer, a state-of-the-art ship simulator which prepares Sailors for bridge and combat information center watch stander responsibilities.

    “I’m proud to come out here and support my home state,” said Hamlin. “I know there was always a big military presence when I raced at Langley 20 years ago. You have to realize that servicemembers don’t get a break very often, but when they do and come see a race, it’s pretty special.”

    Although Hamlin was the first NASCAR driver to visit during this year’s “Mission 600”, he will not be the last as other drivers will continue the trend for every military branch. Four remaining tours will be done by Ryan Newman at Fort Bragg, Bubba Wallace at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Kyle Larson at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, and Austin Dillon at U.S. Coast Guard Station Wrightsville Beach.



    Date Taken: 04.11.2019
    Date Posted: 04.12.2019 13:36
    Story ID: 317928
    Location: NORFOLK, VA, US 

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    NASCAR’s Denny Hamlin visits Naval Station Norfolk