Herbert and Snap-on team continue to host local Marines LINCOLNTON, N.C. -- It's amazing how a small group of people can make such a large impact. Doug Herbert and the rest of the Snap-on Tools Top Fuel team know the feeling. They have hosted ...
Herbert and Snap-on team continue to host local Marines
LINCOLNTON, N.C. -- It's amazing how a small group of people can make such a large impact. Doug Herbert and the rest of the Snap-on Tools Top Fuel team know the feeling. They have hosted fewer than 50 Marines during five NHRA POWERade Drag Racing events this season.
Yet the impact of those Marines has been immeasurable.
"The whole deal has turned into such a positive, uplifting program for our entire team," Herbert said. "We get amazing feedback from people all over the place and it really tells us that we are doing the right thing.
"More than anything else, we're glad these Marines have made it home safely and are able to come join us for a day at the drag races. These men and woman have been to hell and back so it's awesome to see them with big smiles on their faces. They make everyone on our team proud to have them in our pit area."
The Marines invited have all recently come home from overseas combat duty. The program will continue next at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., June 9-12. The Marines will also be invited to the races in St. Louis (June 24-26), Sonoma, Calif. (July 29-31), Indianapolis (Aug. 31-Sept. 5), Reading, Pa., (Sept. 15-18), Las Vegas (Oct. 20-23) and Pomona, Calif., (Nov. 3-6).
If Herbert had his way, he would have the special guests at every event.
"We like to make sure the Marines are local men and woman because the last thing we want to do is make someone travel when they have just returned home from war," Herbert said. "Logistically, we like to have Major Philip Toretti on site because he is one of the big reasons why we are hosting this program. But Major is a full-time Marine and it's difficult for him to join us at every race."
The Marines who come to the track as a guest of the Snap-on team have all signed a Marine flag, which hangs with pride in the hospitality area.
"We get so much positive attention from that flag," Herbert said. "I have people who come up and tell me about their son or daughters who are overseas or other family members that just got home. It's a great symbol and I've met a lot of people because of the signatures on that flag."
Herbert and Maj. Toretti became friends during the 2004 season. Toretti had become pen pals with NHRA.com writer Rob Geiger while he was fighting in the Middle East in 2003-2004. It turns out that Toretti was the Commanding Officer of one of Geiger's college friends and the duo's mutual interest in drag racing made them fast friends. After consecutive six-month deployments in hostile zones, Toretti finally got the news he was coming home. When Geiger found out, he immediately invited him to any drag race he wanted to attend.
Based out of Norfolk, Va., Geiger assumed the best bets were the races in Reading, Pa., or Bristol, Tenn. But when he told Top Fuel driver Doug Herbert about his new friend, Herbert had an even better idea.
"Rob asked if Major Toretti could hang out in our pit when he came to the race," Herbert said. "I said, 'we can do better then that. Let's make him the Honorary Crew Chief.' He didn't know what race the Major was going to attend so I told him it would probably be easiest if the Major just drove to our place in Lincolnton, N.C., and flew with us on my plane. I figured we'd give a war hero the royal treatment. He certainly earned it. The guy's been on four combat deployments in his 23-year career."
Plans were quickly made for Toretti to join the gang mid-summer 2004 at the Fram Nationals in beautiful Sonoma. The weekend was a success for all parties involved, especially after Fram representative Steve Lavallee made Toretti the Honorary Starter of the race and he was introduced to and given a standing ovation by 50,000 fans.
Herbert wants to keep the warm-welcome going all season.
"All of the Marines that are joining us this year have served combat missions. They are out there fighting for us and this is our way to let them know we support them and we're real glad they made a safe return home," Herbert said. "I want everyone at the races to stop by the Snap-on pit on Saturdays and tell these guys how much we appreciate what they do for all of us in this country."
The Marines who attended the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona, Calif.: Corporal Dustin Orthman, Lance Corporal Richard Davis, Gunnery Sergeant Otis White, Lance Corporal Joseph Lauglin, Lance Corporal David Brillantes, Lance Corporal Charles Lock, and Master Gunnery Sergeant Tony French. They all applied to take part in the festivities through their chain of command and their Marine Expeditionary Force Sergeant Major chose the lucky winners based on their location and interest in motorsports.
The Marines who attended the event in Phoenix: Lance Corporal David Thiem of Miracopa, Ariz.; Sergeant Adam Alaniz of Fresno, Calif.; Corporal Ryan Foster of Boone, Mo.; Corporal Earl Sjogren of Casper, Wyo.; Corporal Mark Pike of Beckley, W.Va.; Lance Corporal Patrick Runyan of Danville, Ill.; Lance Corporal Anthony Gutierrez of New York; Sergeant Andrew Durivage of Temecula, Calif.; and Sergeant Jason Hughes and his fiance Sadith of Buffalo, N.Y.
The Marines who attended the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.: Sergeant Garreth Ray, Corporal Mark McFetridge, Lance Corporal Jamie Yakubsin and Sergeant Shane Walker.
The Marines who attended the Spring Nationals at Houston: Joining Herbert at Houston Raceway Park will be Sergeant E.M. Wilson of Houston, Lance Corporal T.W. Smith of Orange, Texas, Lance Corporal B.T. Aldape III of Houston, Lance Corporal Tom Chenault of Beaumont, Texas, Lance Corporal James Whitehead of Orange, Lance Corporal R. Torres of Houston, Lance Corporal S.W. Street of Cleveland, Texas, Lance Corporal L.J. Rawls of Pasadena, Texas, Lance Corporal L.D. Lindsey of Sour Lake, Texas, and Staff Sergeant John McInerney of Sunnyvale, Calif.
The Marines who attended the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn.: LCpl Stephen Duncan from Pioneer, TN; LCpl Jonathan Maxey (Franklin, TN); LCpl Barry Britton Jr. (Powell, TN); LCpl Andrew Jordan (Mount Juliet, TN); Sgt Jeremy Pope (Columbia); Cpl Charles Gentry (Knoxville, TN); Cpl Christopher Gentry (Knoxville); LCpl Timothy Andrews (Lynchburg); Cpl James Forester (Elkton, Maryland).
"There are a lot of Marines that are racing fans," Toretti said. "I knew I could ask Doug to help make this happen and it would get done. It was important to me to feel the love of the entire NHRA community when I got back home and I wanted to pass that feeling along to other Marines. With Doug's help, we're getting it done this year."