America Supports You: Cheney Thanks NASCAR Community
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 3, 2006 Attending his first NASCAR event July 1, Vice President Dick Cheney thanked the car racing community for its continued support of America's servicemembers.
"I want to thank everybody associated with NASCAR, and especially the drivers and the crew chiefs," Cheney said during the drivers meeting prior to the Pepsi 400 NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Fla. "I know you guys have spent a lot of time with the troops, ... especially those who are in Afghanistan and Iraq and a lot of other places around the world." Cheney said this support was especially important because NASCAR has a huge following among the men and women of the U.S. armed forces.
"That's deeply, deeply appreciated," he said. "There's a symbiotic relationship there, a mutual admiration - the young men and women in our military who love NASCAR, and NASCAR we praise for supporting them."
Many of the drivers have visited wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and the National Naval Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, Md.
"It means a great deal to them that you're willing to spend time demonstrating your support for them," he said.
"On behalf of the president and myself, we greatly appreciate it," he added. "It means a great deal to all of us that you're willing to demonstrate that kind of support for them - (we) know you do a lot in your communities, the major activities and support for the charities and so forth."
Later in the day, Cheney was interviewed on the Fox Sports Network, where he said the 150,000 people at Daytona racetrack was probably the largest live audience he ever addressed.
"It is an awesome undertaking -- just the sheer size of the crowd, the energy, the complexity of what goes on in the pits, and with the teams and the crews." Cheney said. "It's really something."
The vice president said he loved to drive, but had not done so in almost seven years.
"The morning the president -- then governor -- announced that I was going to be his running mate, the Secret Service showed up outside my door and I haven't driven since," he said. "They take over. They do it for security reasons. And it's understandable, but it's very frustrating."
Cheney also said he had the opportunity to spend some time with the drivers and crews of the service-sponsored cars. The Army, National Guard and Air Force all had cars in the race.
"They're down-home people. They're very straightforward, no pretense," he said. "Everybody is measured by how they perform out here on the track, so it's a meritocracy."