Their first race experience

Photos by Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

SPARTA, Ky. — A small group of Challenge Academy cadets were honored during the NASCAR race weekend at Kentucky Speedway, June 28-30, 2013.  Their attendance was due in part to the growing relationship between Hendrick Motorsports and the National Guard Youth Foundation. None of them had ever been to a race of this scale before. Regardless of whether each was a Jeff Gordon fan or a Kasey Kahne fan, they all were in awe of the 88 Chevrolet adorned with the logo of the Youth Foundation. From the moment Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the green flag on Sunday, their excitement did not falter through each and every left hand turn.

130630-Z-GN092-175

Dallas Voge, a graduate of Bluegrass Challenge Academy checks for guidance in leading the color guard prior to presenting the colors for the pre-race festivities. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

 

130629-Z-GN092-013

Maxx Gay, a cadet with North Carolina’s Tarheel Challenge Academy and Sarah Heck, a graduate of Kentucky’s Bluegrass Challenge Academy took photos with Kaley Caperton, singer/songwriter and national spokesperson for the National Guard Youth Foundation, in front of an American Flag display featured in Caperton’s music video, Red, White and Beautiful. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Click here to see Kaley’s music video on CMT.com.

130628-Z-GN092-096

Appalachian Challenge Academy graduate, Rome Meade, (right) said meeting Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a highlight of the great weekend. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

130629-Z-MR175-131

Sarah Heck, (left), a graduate of Bluegrass Challenge Academy was glad to share her Challenge story with two U.S. Senators, Mitch McConnell from Kentucky and Mary Landrieu from Louisiana. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht)

130629-Z-GN092-080

Challenge Academy graduates, Sparky Edwards (left) and Cole Davis took a peak inside the 88 Chevrolet during a garage tour on Saturday. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

130628-Z-MR175-078

Rome Meade participated in a press conference on Friday with Earnhardt Jr., Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini and Gail Dady, President of the Borad of Directors for the Youth Foundation. Meade had no idea he would be the face of the Challenge program on this day. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht)

130630-Z-GN092-051

Dallas Voge from the Bluegrass Challenge Academy snapped a few quick photo on pit road prior to the race on Sunday. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

130630-Z-GN092-079

It’s not everyday, you can just take a stroll down pit road between race cars on race day. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

130630-Z-GN092-184

After strolling down pit road, it was time for business and marching the colors to the start/finish line for the National Anthem. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

130630-Z-GN092-351

The cadets last stop on their exciting weekend was high above the track in their seats in a suite provided by the Youth Foundation. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

To see all the photos from the weekend, click here.

To learn more about the National Guard Youth Foundation, visit their website, www.ngyf.org.

About kentuckyguard