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Military service shaped life, career of No. 78 crewman

November 10, 2011, Official Release, NASCAR.com



Military service shaped life, career of No. 78 crewman
U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran Krauch serves multiple tasks for Furniture Row

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Charlie Krauch's focus will be on his garage duties with Furniture Row Racing and the No. 78 Chevrolet driven by Regan Smith this Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. But Veterans Day, comrades past and -- especially -- those currently in service to the nation won't be far from the mind of the U.S. Army Vietnam War soldier.

Krauch, the Denver-based team's director of transportation, served as a specialist fourth class with the U.S. Army from 1971-73, maintaining heavy equipment at bases near Hue and later at Da Nang.

Paying tribute


NASCAR Nation is filled with fans who have served their country and supported the military forces who protect and defend. In this Mission, we invite you to honor U.S. veterans with your photo and video tributes.

His unit was the last to leave his first base as the American presence wore down. Krauch then was a passenger on the final Freedom Flight out of Da Nang.

"My thoughts are with the soldiers in there now," said Krauch, who is proud of how America is thanking its post-9/11 service members. "But all [who have served] should be acknowledged for what they've done. We know what the active ones are going through. We need to take care of all these people [but] the guys in the past need to be recognized, as well."

Krauch, 59, a native of Hamburg, Pa. now living in Greeley, Colo., is grateful for the positive experiences his military service provided. "It was a job that few people wanted to do but we did it," he said of serving in Vietnam. "Learning a sense of authority was a real eye-opener, how to take [and execute] orders at a young age.

"The whole experience taught me how good we have it here and how to take care of yourself and other people."

A number of Sprint Cup Series teams will recognize Veterans Day with special paint schemes and other activities related to service members during the Phoenix race weekend.

The Stewart-Haas Racing's No. 39 Chevrolet of Ryan Newman will be adorned with 350 faces of U.S. Army Vietnam War veterans as part of the U.S. Army's sponsorship in the Cup Series.

Front Row Motorsports' No. 38 Ford of J.J. Yeley will carry a patriotic paint scheme designed by disabled U.S. Marine Scott Bates of Muscogee, Okla.

The No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Toyota of Bobby Labonte is recognizing the Wounded Warrior Project while the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Clint Bowyer will spotlight sponsor General Mills/Cheerios' commitment to aid the USO. The team also is hosting military families from nearby Luke Air Force Base.

* Veterans Day tribute: NASCAR honors our nation's heroes

No doubt about it -- after owner, driver and crew chief, Krauch is the most important member of the Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet team.

What makes that so? Furniture Row is the only full-time Cup team headquartered outside the Carolinas. With the majority of the races held a thousand or more miles from the team's Denver shop, it's imperative every piece and part is accounted for and available.

Not to mention stripped, cleaned and replaced on a schedule that leaves little or no time for error.

"We're doing double the miles they do," said Krauch, who supervises the team's three-hauler-driver rotation. Talking on a Monday afternoon from the shop, he said, "We just got back an hour ago and we have to leave by Tuesday night. Our turnarounds are a lot shorter."

Krauch didn't come to the team as a logistics specialist. But the need was there and he'd managed people before -- most recently five years ago for Art Castings of Colorado, a firm that crafted and completed a number of monuments including the Vietnam Nurses Memorial in Washington D.C., and the Buffalo Soldiers site at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

"I had hands-on experience dealing with [45] artists, people that think a bit differently than everybody else," said Krauch, who found it a smooth transition to a NASCAR team whose members are artists as well -- just of a different sort.

On race weekends, Krauch wears a number of hats, typical of a one-car team whose members are expected to perform multiple duties. He and his truck drivers are responsible for setting up equipment and observation decks. During the race itself Krauch will haul gas cans back and forth to the Sunoco fuel station as well as handling the transport of tires to and from the Goodyear Tire Station inside the garage.

He also conducts pit tours for Furniture Row guests and prospective sponsors. "I try to explain everything in layman's terms and try not to get too technical," he said. "There's a lot of information to absorb and most of the people on the tours have no clue as to what happens" behind the scenes.