June 7, 2012

Airmen, family members put the pedal to the metal

Airman 1st Class Michael Washburn
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Air Force members from D-M and their families drag race each other in a Southwestern International Raceway tournament May 30. Two people race, one person moves on to the next round in a single elimination race. Identical cars were used, so the skill of the driver was the only factor in winning the race.

Members from D-M and their families gathered at the Southwestern International Raceway to find out who would be bringing home the trophy at a drag racing tournament May 30.

“Two years ago, when Col. Cherrey, 355th Fighter Wing commander, first arrived at D-M, we did an event like this with the commanders, against the chiefs, against the first sergeants,” said Master Sgt. Scott Frederick, 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron quality assurance and event organizer. “He had such a good time that we wanted to do another.”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Trace Steyaert, 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, poses with his family after defeating 49 other racers to win the Southwestern International Raceway drag race tournament May 30. Identical cars were used, so the skill of the driver was the only factor in winning the race.

After the initial drag race tournament, the track changed ownership and the event stopped. Since then, the original owners took back the track and were able to have another go at the tournament.

One of the reasons Sergeant Frederick organized the race was to get people out of the military environment and maybe help spark an interest in drag racing.

“This is a team-building event,” Frederick said. “We wanted to get people out of the office and have the opportunity to interact with their coworkers and their leadership. The biggest thing is to get people out and have a good time.”

Before heading out on their asphalt adventure, the racers were instructed by experienced drivers on the do’s and don’ts of drag racing. Before the tournament, they were allowed two practice runs to hone their skills.

After receiving some top-notch training, the racers were ready to roll. The tournament rules were simple: two racers enter, one racer moves on to the next round. There are no do-overs and no second chances.

One by one the racers were eliminated until only one remained and was king of the strip. The winner was Lt. Col. Trace Steyaert, 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander.

“Racing was awesome,” Steyaert said. “I think I got some lucky streaks which helped me. This was a great event and everyone had a blast. That’s really what it’s all about, everyone coming together for some competitive fun. If they put this on next year, I’ll be here to defend my title.”

U.S. Air Force Col. John Cherrey, 355th Fighter Wing commander, steps out of his race car after winning a race with Master Sgt. Scott Frederick, 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron, at the Southwestern International Raceway May 30. Although winning his first race, Colonel Cherrey was eliminated in the second set of races.

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