Sears Point: No. 16 travel plans

No. 16 National Guard Team to Arrive in CH 47 Chinook Helicopter Sunday Morning at Infineon Sonoma, Calif. (June 24, 2004) - Earlier this week the call came in to the Roush Racing shop in Concord, N.C. that the National Guard had finalized...

No. 16 National Guard Team to Arrive in CH 47 Chinook Helicopter Sunday Morning at Infineon

Sonoma, Calif. (June 24, 2004) - Earlier this week the call came in to the Roush Racing shop in Concord, N.C. that the National Guard had finalized special travel arrangements for the No. 16 team. After several weeks of planning, it was confirmed that the team would arrive and depart from Infineon Raceway on Sunday in a CH 47 Chinook Helicopter.

"We wanted to give the National Guard Team a morale boost," said SFC John Metzler of the National Guard. "They work week in and week out to give the men and women of the Army National Guard great a car to root for on the track. The morale they provide we want to give back to them."

The CH 47 Chinook is a tandem-rotor transport helicopter. It is 51 feet in length, weighs approximately 33,000 pounds, has a maximum payload of more than seven tons and travels at up to 150 mph. It requires three crew members and can carry 33 troops. The first Chinooks were built in 1961 and were first used in combat during Vietnam War. By 1968, the Chinook had put in 161,000 hours of flying time, carrying 22.4 million passengers and 1.3 million tons of cargo.

Chinook helicopters were also used to transport U.S. and allied troops in the Persian Gulf War. During 2002, the Chinook's high speed and large payload gave it the lowest cost-per-ton-mile of any transport helicopter available. 300 Chinooks are currently undergoing another modernization process to make them fully compatible with 21st century operational and war-fighting requirements as well as improve the aircraft's efficiency and effectiveness.

The CH 47 used to transport the National Guard crew this weekend will be operated by three members of the National Guard. The Chinook will be brought in to Oakland, Calif. on Saturday for the early morning flight to Infineon Raceway. The team will meet the helicopter at 5:30 am for the 20-minute flight to the track as the garage is schedule to open at 6:00 am. Following the 110-lap event, the CH 47 will be brought back to the Infineon Raceway helipad where it will pick up the National Guard team to take them to Roush Air in Oakland.

"This is an amazing thing that the National Guard is doing for us," said crew chief, Doug Richert. "It means a lot to the team. Aside from avoiding the raceday traffic, the experience alone will be something these guys won't forget. The National Guard has been supportive all season and this is just another example of how they are behind this team 110%."

LTC Michael Jones of the National Guard confirmed that there is a feeling of mutual support between the National Guard and the race team.

"We support our team as they support our soldiers that are deployed and at home," said Jones.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Doug Richert , Mike Jones