WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. — Daniel Suárez and his No. 99 Trackhouse Racing crew chief, Travis Mack, traveled to U.S. Coast Guard Station Wrightsville Beach on Tuesday in North Carolina, as part of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s annual Mission 600 program.
Suárez, a native of Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, and part of Coca-Cola Racing’s family of drivers, made his first in-person visit with the U.S. Coast Guard after a virtual interaction in 2021.
“Recognition is huge,” Suárez told NASCAR.com. “To learn more about what they do and how they do it. Some of these people spend their entire lives training and working and moving different places to help others to keep people safe. And we shouldn’t be taking that for granted. I feel happy and I’m proud to be here with Coca-Cola and NASCAR to be able to understand more and learn more of how they do things.”
This visit was an exciting and wholesome one, creating an opportunity for U.S. Coast Guard personnel to learn about NASCAR and vice versa.
The Trackhouse pairing received hands-on training, including simulating a beached boat rescue mission and operating pumping units designed to counter flooding on vessels at sea. Likewise, it was a chance for at-station personnel to learn the ins and outs of day-to-day workload for drivers, crew chiefs and their race teams.
Normally leading the charge on Sundays, Mack took the opportunity to learn new things he could apply to his race team — including taking a back seat while Suárez piloted the 45-foot vessel.
“Working in a team atmosphere, learning how the military branch of authority works and how they do things as a team is really important to take some of that aspect back to our team,” Mack told NASCAR.com. “How can we apply the things that they do in the military to our racing team and make us better. These guys dedicating themselves to the Coast Guard is really impressive. It’s amazing the job that they do.”
Each year leading up to the Coca-Cola 600, drivers throughout the Coca-Cola Racing Family participate in various virtual and in-person interactions with armed forces leading up to Memorial Day weekend and the Charlotte race.
And Suárez’s in-person experience was a memorable one.
“In general, a lot of respect for them,” Suárez said. “The respect hasn’t changed, I already had that respect before today. But to learn more about what they do has been something cool. They spend their entire lives trying to keep people safe and save people’s lives, so big respect for these guys.”
The 63rd running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is Sunday, May 29 (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).