FONTANA, Calif. (NNS) -- Sixteen Sailors assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) attended the Auto Club 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in Fontana, California, as part of the NASCAR Troops to the Track program, March 18.
Troops to the Track is a NASCAR initiative to invite thousands of troops from military installations across the country to be treated to customized VIP experiences - such as exclusive access to the auto pits, an opportunity to meet one of the drivers and guided detailed garage tours, among many other special-access activities.
NASCAR driver Jesse Iwuji, also a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve, jumped at the chance to show his shipmates the ins and outs of his job.
"I started racing in NASCAR in 2015 - I've basically been working my way up since," said Iwuji. "Doing that, and also being in the military, allowed me to have the opportunity to be here with Sailors, Airmen, Marines - you name it. As the only military guy who's actually racing, I'm able to relate to the different service members."
One of the first events included a meet and greet with the Monster Energy Crew, during which, Sailors met and took 'selfies' with NASCAR Driver Joey Logano, O'Shea Jackson Sr., professionally known as "Ice Cube," the rap group known as "Migos" and many others.
After the group was formally introduced to the thousands of NASCAR fans, they headed to pit row and saw firsthand how pit crews work during the race.
"Back home they have the Kansas Speedway, and I've been to two races," said Air Traffic Controller 3rd Class John Hacker, assigned to America. "But once they said we could go down into the pits, that was an even bigger deal than what I've seen before. I love NASCAR!"
America is homeported in San Diego and recently returned from a seven-month deployment to the 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations. The ship has now entered a planned maintenance availability period in which contractors and crew members work together to upgrade the ship's design.
America is an aviation centric amphibious assault ship that provides forward presence and power projection as an integral part of joint interagency and multinational maritime expeditionary forces. It will support Marine aviation requirements, from small-scale contingency operations of an expeditionary strike group, to forcible entry missions in major theaters of war.
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For more news from USS America (LHA 6), visit www.navy.mil/local/lha6/.