Chase Elliott rides in a Blackhawk Helicopter during BMS Media Day in Nashville
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series star Chase Elliott visited Nashville Wednesday to help Bristol Motor Speedway promote the upcoming Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race and while he was there he took part in a bucket-list ride swap with pilots of the Tennessee National Guard's 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion.
Elliott, an avid pilot himself, jumped aboard a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter along with media members and other dignitaries for a quick flight around Nashville, courtesy of the Tennessee National Guard. In turn, Elliott provided track laps in the Bristol Motor Speedway Chevy Camaro Pace Car around the Fairgrounds Nashville Speedway to the three Blackhawk pilots, Major General Jeff Holmes, newly announced Nashville Neighborhood Hero, Sargent First Class Daniel Cole, and several other military members with the Tennessee National Guard.
"That was amazing, a really cool experience to go joyride in a Blackhawk," Elliott said. "Being in one, I've never been in anything similar to that. The views over downtown Nashville were beautiful. I love the city, one of the coolest towns in the country in my opinion."
Prior to the flight, BMS officials and Elliott honored Cole during a press conference at the Tennessee National Guard airbase at Berry Field. Cole, who recently returned from his fourth overseas deployment, this one to Kosovo, served as the primary movement planner, executer and key logistician where he exceeded all expectations and his work was critical to the successful completion of the mission by the 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion.
Sargent Cole will be honored during pre-race ceremonies on Saturday night prior to the green flag for the 500-lap Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
Elliott was thrilled to visit with the troops.
"The Major was saying a lot of the men and women just got home from being deployed," Elliott said. "We couldn't do what we do without them. This is as close as people like me will ever get to this experience without being in the Army or National Guard."
In addition to military members, Elliott also gave rides to media members and other dignitaries during the event. He used to race at the historic track that sits just minutes from downtown Nashville during his Late Model days and won the prestigious All-American 400 there in 2013. He has been a proponent for bringing NASCAR racing back to the .596-mile oval.
"I've raced here a number of times and I always enjoyed coming to the Fairgrounds," Elliott said. "I think it's one of the coolest short tracks in the United States. You're not going to find a race track, this cool, this close to a major city."
Elliott, who won at Talladega earlier this season and clinched his spot in the upcoming NASCAR Cup Playoffs, won't have any added pressure to win on his shoulders during the high-intensity Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. However, he has shown signs that he could be a strong contender for victory at the legendary all-concrete high-banked bullring in two weeks. He finished third and led 112 laps during last season's epic Night Race, which many tagged an instant classic, and in April he earned the pole for the Food City 500.
"It was awesome to win the pole," Elliott said. "It was my first pole outside of a speedway. I felt I was able to contribute to that one a little more than the other ones. The pole is the best thing I've done there results-wise. I had a good car there last August although I didn't win."
In less than two weeks, NASCAR fans will once again be able to cheer on Elliott and all of their favorite drivers. In addition to Elliott, Bristol dominator Kyle Busch, his brother and defending Night Race winner Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, defending series champion Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Blaney will all be looking to take home the Gladiator sword from The Last Great Colosseum during the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
During the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race weekend you'll definitely want to take advantage of so many activities to make a complete weekend of family fun, including great video entertainment provided by Colossus TV, the world's largest center-hung video screen, premium VIP experiences like the Chairman's Experience, tailgating, a visit to the Kids Zone, on-site camping, concerts, great food and beverages in the concession stands throughout the property, and so much more.
If you want to bring the entire clan out to experience the amazing fun that is America's Night Race, Bristol Motor Speedway officials are making it easier than ever for families to enjoy the weekend. Kids' tickets (12 and under) are free and adult tickets are $30 for Thursday's (Aug. 15) UNOH 200 and Bush's Beans 150 doubleheader. On Friday (Aug. 16), kids' tickets are free and adult tickets start at $30 for the Food City 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race and Pinty's Qualifying for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. On Saturday night (August 17) adult tickets start at $65 for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race and kids' tickets are $10. For all races, each child must have a physical ticket in hand to enter the gates. The Bristol Motor Speedway ticket office is the only authorized location that can produce the free kids' tickets.
To purchase tickets to the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, please call 423-BRISTOL or buy them online at www.BRISTOLTIX.com. For a limited time, tickets can also be purchased directly from any neighborhood Food City store.