F-15 Fighter Jet "Races" IRL IndyCar at Langley Air Force Base Richmond, VA (June 22, 2004) - IRL IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon sadly did not win today's unusual "race" but seemed to be in high spirits. "It was awesome fun! I'd love to do it...
F-15 Fighter Jet "Races" IRL IndyCar at Langley Air Force Base
Richmond, VA (June 22, 2004) - IRL IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon sadly did not win today's unusual "race" but seemed to be in high spirits. "It was awesome fun! I'd love to do it again," said Wheldon.
When Wheldon got into to his special two-seat Jim Beam Drink Smart IRL IndyCar and put on his helmet and racing gear to get ready to compete in another race this afternoon, he knew that he would not be racing against his usual competitors. The event was a one-on-one contest with his high-powered IndyCar against one of the most prominent aircrafts in the United States, an F-15 Fighter Jet.
The two separate racing machines lined up at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, VA to help promote this Saturday's SunTrust Indy Challenge at nearby Richmond International Raceway. Wheldon and Major Bret "Slam" Anderson lined up on two side-by-side runways and raced to the finish line nearly a mile and a half away. Wheldon came out strong and held the lead up until the 1/4 -mile marker where Major Anderson passed him in his F-15 to "win" by only 40 feet.
Anderson is a veteran fighter pilot who grew up watching racing in Daytona Beach, Florida. "Racing and flying are a lot alike, they take the same type of personality, Anderson said. "I've never done anything like this, so it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the Air Force and the upcoming race at Richmond."
Today's race was successful due to the help from Jim Beam, Langley Air Force Base, Sinden Racing and two very willing pilots in two very separate cockpits.
"That was really cool," Wheldon continued. "I have never done anything like this before either, so it was quite a treat to race against Major Anderson and his F-15. I'm proud I was able to come to Langley Air Force Base. Being with the people who keep America safe is incredible. It feels really good to give just a little back. Now I'm really pumped up for the race on Saturday night."
A double-header on Saturday, June 26 highlights race weekend when the USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Series takes to the track for the Dominic's of New York 100. As a grand finale, the SunTrust Indy Challenge "under the lights" showcases the top drivers on the IRL IndyCar Series running laps close to 170 miles per hour, followed by a spectacular fireworks extravaganza.
The action begins Friday with WRIC TV 8 Pole Qualifying for the SunTrust Indy Challenge, an autograph session with all of the IRL IndyCar Series drivers and a USAC Valvoline National Sprint Car Series race.
All tickets for Friday are just $15. Saturday night's tickets are $35 for reserved seats and $30 for general admission. Children 12 and under are free with a paying adult in general admission seating on both nights. Weekend long garage passes for adults 18 and older are just $35. For more information, call the Richmond International Raceway ticket office at 866-455-RACE (7223), or log on to www.rir.com.