Each year, Charlotte Motor Speedway and CSM Production collaborate to salute America’s bravest at the Coca-Cola 600. Held during Memorial Day weekend, the 60th running of the Coca-Cola 600 featured all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces in an unprecedented opening ceremony.
The 60th running of the Coca-Cola 600 called for opening ceremonies that were bigger than ever before, with three stages– a driver introduction stage, a national anthem stage, and a concert stage. The drivers meeting also added to the excitement of the day featuring an entrance tunnel and an eye-catching backdrop including an LED screen.
As a kick off of the show, Cheap Trick performed a pre race concert for those in attendance. Then, in true Memorial Day tradition, a melody of patriotic songs ushered the event closer to the green flag with performances by the 82nd Airborne Chorus and the iconic voice of Lee Greenwood singing “God Bless the USA”. During driver introductions, drivers took the announcer stand to introduce a service member. After the introduction, the MENCS driver and service member walked down the 300-foot pier surrounded by service members and fans to the awaiting Toyota Tundra parade trucks.
With the race only minutes from the green flag, a few final tributes occurred. Including the presentation of colors by United States Air Force Honor Guard Colors Team, Three-Volley Salute by Fort Bragg Firing Squad, “Amazing Grace” by the Charlotte Fire Department Pipe Band, the National Anthem performed by MUC William Edwards, and a fly-over by four MV-22 from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266.
After a goose bump filled opening ceremonies, the green flag waved. Six hundred miles later, Martin Truex Jr captured the checkered flag to cap off an extraordinary salute to America’s bravest.