Photo By Staff Sgt. Jacob Derry | Senior Airman Joe Robinson, 335th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E Strike Eagle…… read more read more
Photo By Staff Sgt. Jacob Derry | Senior Airman Joe Robinson, 335th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E Strike Eagle dedicated crew chief (right), gives Jerry Hailey, Richard Childress Racing promotions and safety manager (front left), a tour of the Strike Eagle, Dec. 5, 2019, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. Robinson, along with Senior Airman Jairic Moses, 335th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E Strike Eagle dedicated crew chief, designed the nose art for the jet while deployed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob Derry) see less | View Image Page
It’s common to hear the roar of an F-15E Strike Eagle in the skies above North Carolina, however there was a different type of engine making noise on Seymour Johnson’s flightline Dec. 5, 2019.
Members of Richard Childress Racing were excited to bring one of NASCAR hall of famer Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s original race cars to SJAFB as a token of appreciation for Airmen who continue to serve and protect this nation. The car was placed side-by-side with a Strike Eagle bearing a similar number “3”, which was given by Senior Airmen Joe Robinson and Jairic Moses, 335th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E Strike Eagle dedicated crew chiefs, while on a deployment earlier this year.
“We were approved to do nose art over there [while deployed] and we were like, ‘Let’s change the name of it’ and went with a NASCAR theme, this [No. 3] being one of the more notable numbers in NASCAR,” said Robinson.
Formerly named “Lady Liberty”, the new jet was named “Intimidator”, a nickname earned by Earnhardt during his racing career. Nose art on aircraft is traditional while in a deployed environment as way to boost morale and give Airmen a stronger connection to the mission.
“It put a smile on everyone’s face,” said Robinson. “From the wing commander to the aircrew flying to everyone working on it.”
Jerry Hailey, RCR promotions and safety manager and former pit-crew member for Earnhardt, was grateful for the opportunity to show his gratitude to the Airmen. The car displayed at SJAFB was retired in 1998, after racing at ISM Raceway, formerly known as Phoenix Raceway, and placing third, which by Earnhardt’s standards, wasn’t good enough. But a charged battery and a fresh tank of gas brought the car to life, despite 20 years of not being driven.
“This was absolutely wonderful to see Dale Earnhardt honored with the number on the side of the jet and for us to come out here and say thank you for everything that the Air Force does for us, protecting our rights that we enjoy every day,” said Hailey. “It’s something a lot of people take for granted and I know it’s something our RCR family does not.”
Airmen were able to take photos, sit in the car and feel the rumble of the engine as it was fired up.
Hailey met Robinson and Moses, prior to receiving a tour of the jet that was named after Earnhardt.
“It’s unbelievable to see this thing [F-15E] in person,” said Hailey. “Knowing that machine is protecting the rights we have, our freedoms that we enjoy, is something that we just can’t take for granted, so to be able to honor the military is very special to us.”
Robinson expressed he was grateful to be able to see one of the cars that inspired him to design the Strike Eagle’s art.
“It’s definitely cool that they were able to do this,” said Robinson. “I never thought it would go this far, I didn’t think I’d ever sit in an actual race car. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
While the rumble of a NASCAR may be loud, it can’t compare to the sound of freedom produced by our very own Strike Eagles.
This work, Fast cars and freedom; No. 3 NASCAR brought to SJ flightline, by Member: 1529617
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