Each year, Charlotte Motor Speedway and CSM Production collaborate to salute America’s bravest at the Coca-Cola 600. Held during Memorial Day weekend on Sunday, May 27, the 59th running of the Coca-Cola 600 featured all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces in an unprecedented presentation.
The pre-race “Salute to the Troops” played host to special military guests and showcased vehicles and awe-inspiring military displays from the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Working closely with the Department of Defense and local military bases, CSM Production coordinated a Blackhawk helicopter rappel team, a Fort Bragg Howitzers demonstration, and a flyover by the jaw-dropping F-15 fighter jets.
Armed with two stages – a driver introduction stage and a national anthem stage, the team at CSM Production coordinated a litany of special guest introductions. During driver introductions, drivers took the announcer stand to introduce special service members in attendance, a total of eight from each branch. Then the driver and service member were escorted down the pier with more than 600 service members flanking the stage.
A melody of patriotic songs ushered the event closer to the green flag with performances by the 82nd Airborne Chorus, the iconic voice of Lee Greenwood singing “God Bless the USA” and a medley by the USO Show Troupe.
With the race only minutes from starting, a few finishing touches made the day extra special. A bugler from Fort Bragg, a 21-gun salute, “Amazing Grace” by the Charlotte Fire Department bagpipes, the presentation of colors by UNC Charlotte’s ROTC Color Guard, Team Fastrax skydivers,and the invocation from Navy Commander Steve Coates were all delivered with pomp and circumstance.
While USMC Captain Skye Martin performed the national anthem, two 30 by 50-foot American flags were unfurled near the front stretch.
Prior to opening ceremonies, the Grammy-nominated Eli Young Band performed for ticketholders.
After an unforgettable opening ceremony presentation, the green flag waved at 6:18 p.m. Six hundred miles later, Kyle Busch captured the checkered flag to cap off an extraordinary salute to America’s bravest.