NASCAR race impresses MSG commander

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 78 ABW/PA
NASCAR continues to recruit fans and it may have found another one in the 78th Mission Support Group commander.

Col. Lee-Ann Perkins recently represented the Air Force at NASCAR's Pep Boys Auto 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. She said she isn't a traditional NASCAR fan, but when she was given the chance to attend her first-ever race, she couldn't pass it up.

"It sounded like a great opportunity to not only experience a NASCAR race but to also interact with some new recruits," Colonel Perkins said. "The entire experience was a lot of fun and although I may never become a diehard fan, I am definitely a fan."

While at the race, the colonel received the full VIP treatment. She rubbed shoulders with Reed Sorenson, who drives the Air Force-sponsored vehicle. She attended the pre-race driver's meeting, stood with the drivers in the center of the track while they played the national anthem, and then watched the race trackside from the pit tower.

"That was very interesting," she said. "I got to witness pit stops up close and personal. I saw both extremes - a very well orchestrated pit stop that put the driver several positions ahead and another that didn't go so well and put the driver several positions behind."

She said communication and teamwork were keys to success, just like in the Air Force.

"You can draw lots of parallels between the race and how we do business here in the Air Force. You absolutely need teamwork to be successful in both," Colonel Perkins said.

The commander was able to sit in a racing car, which she found "not as comfy" as her sedan. She also toured the hauler, which is the rig used to transport the primary and backup vehicles. She said it was outfitted like a garage, with every tool, part and piece imaginable for the car.

She was also impressed with the major role technology plays in racing.

"I was expecting grease monkeys with big wrenches, but it's actually very high tech," she said. "They have computers that monitor every little heartbeat of that car. It's amazing."

While the overall NASCAR experience amazed and impressed, Colonel Perkins said the best part of the day was being able to swear in 15 new recruits.

"I found it just as inspiring as the rest of the day, which was a lot of fun," she said. "They seemed like a great group of young Americans excited to serve their country."

She said being involved with NASCAR as a sponsor draws positive attention the Air Force.