Aug. 5, 2010

Air Guard teams up with RIR to announce “Air Guard 400” 

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. — Track President Doug Fritz and Air Force Master Sgt. Matt Leas jumped from an airplane and parachuted on to the Pit Road of Richmond International Raceway Aug. 4 to announce the name of this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here entitled, the Air Guard 400, and to unveil the new Air Guard 400 race logo and official pace car.

 

The official pace car for the Air Guard 400, which will be held at the Richmond International Speedway Sept. 11, 2010. The announcement of the race's title was given at RIR on Aug. 4 after a skydiving stunt by Air Force Master Sgt. Matt Leas and Track President Doug Fritz. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

More photos of the Air Guard 400 announcement are available on the Virginia Guard Flickr page.


The two men jumped from about 7,000 feet above the raceway complex to mark the announcement of their partnership for the “One Last Race to Make the Chase” NASCAR doubleheader weekend taking place at the racetrack Sept. 10-11, where Virginia Air Guard recruiters and Airmen will be on hand highlighting the opportunities the Air Guard has to offer Americans.

“We are excited to announce a new partnership with the Air Guard for our Sept.  11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race,” said Fritz. “The Air Guard is a great organization that allows Americans to serve our country and their community. Many of our first responders are also members of the Air Guard and we’re proud to bring them on as a new partner at Richmond International Raceway.”

 

Reporters interview Air Force Master Sgt. Matt Leas in front of the Official Pace Car of the Air Guard 400 inside the Richmond International Raceway August 4. Leas skydived on to the track alongside Track President Doug Fritz to announce the official name of the race, Air Guard 400. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

More photos of the Air Guard 400 announcement are available on the Virginia Guard Flickr page.

The announcement marks a milestone, not just for Fritz, who was a first-time jumper and the first track president to ever jump into the infield of a racetrack, but also for the Air Guard which is picking up speed to raise its public awareness in communities across the country, according to officials in the marketing and advertising branch of the Air National Guard.

“The Air Guard has about a one percent awareness rating across the nation,” said Leas, the noncommissioned officer in charge of advertising at the National Guard Bureau. “That means that 99 percent of Americans don’t know about the opportunities that are available in their communities. This is one way to get that message out, and we’re proud to have it there, and we’re proud to see it.”

 

Master Sgt. Matt Leas skydives into Richmond International Raceway August 4 before making the official announcement that the Sept. 11 Sprint Cup Series race will be titled Air Guard 400. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

More photos of the Air Guard 400 announcement are available on the Virginia Guard Flickr page.


“We need to look at innovative ways to raise [awareness], and make sure that Americans nationwide know about the opportunities that the Air Guard has to offer.”

Jumping out of a “perfectly good airplane” was a symbolic way to show the unity that was formed with the partnership between the Air Guard and RIR, and showed the devotion to the union by both parties, according to Fritz.

“Falling was a really, really neat experience. For the Air Guard and the partnership that we’re going to do on Sept. 11 is just a natural tie-in,” Fritz said. “We’re proud to partner with the men and [Airmen] protecting the freedoms all over the world”

“It was all worth it for me. Jumping out of an airplane is probably easier than what they have to do every day in war across the world, fighting for our freedom.”

The Air Guard allows Americans to serve part-time providing flexibility to live life on their terms while serving their community, their state and country with honor and pride. With more than 140 units in the United States, Air Guard members can serve where they live. Serving in the Air Guard helps Americans earn money for college, receive world-class training for a high-tech world and gain the discipline and confidence to be successful in life.

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