August 27, 2004

Guard Car makes appearance at Science Museum

By Spc. Stephanie Willer
Staff Writer


The Virginia National Guard car arrives in front of the Virginia Science Museum. (Photo by Spc. Stephanie Willer, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)

The race car is meticulously inspected. A few minor adjustments are made before the car and trailer pull away from the garage and leave for the science museum. Once the car is rolled up onto the trailer the hood is carefully put in place by the racing team’s general manager and head mechanic.  The bold yellow logo on the polished, shiny blue hood reads, “NATIONAL GUARD.”  Once again, another Guard racecar joins the ranks of the NASCAR racing circuit.

On August 12 2004, The National Guard’s Race Team 54’s truck and trailer pulled up in front of the Virginia Science Museum (VSM) for guests to get an up close and personal look at the racecar that has been making waves as it rolls through the Commonwealth. 

Even the rainy weather didn’t keep selected guests, guardsmen and members of the racing team from participating in a charity event at the science museum in Richmond, Va. The event was made possible through the coordination of CW3 Darrel Gallagher, a Virginia National Guard helicopter pilot, whose company sponsored the event.  This event was tied together with a special private showing of “NASCAR: The IMAX Experience,” which goes behind the scenes of racing.

This was a perfect time to show off Car 54, which has been competing in the Dodge Weekly Series since spring 2004. This summer Car 54 traveled around Virginia to bring awareness to the racing team as well as support the National Guard’s recruiting drive. 

“In July, the car was at Ft. Pickett for the 4th of July Festival.  We also showed the car at the Armory in Emporia as well as Roanoke,” said Rick Townsend, owner and operator of the Townsend Racing Garage where the car was built and is currently being stored.

“It’s amazing the response we get when we are on the road,” he said. “People are hooting and hollering at us.”  He added that some of the fans that are guardsmen who are following the Dodge Weekly Series, while others are stopping them at gas stations to say that it makes them proud to be an American.  

In the garage, an American flag hangs over the area where the two stock cars are stored. “We asked the Guard for the flag, and they made sure to supply us one,” said Townsend. He added that the flag gives a patriotic feel to the garage.

“We try to be wherever the Guard needs us.” He added, “Morty Buckles also tries to be there to sign autographs when he can.” Buckles is the driver of Car 54. Buckles became part of “Drive for Diversity’ when he joined the Driver Development Program that BH Motorsports organized in 2002.  The program supports minority drivers and gives them an opportunity to possibly compete at the Winston Cup level.

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