May is Military Appreciation Month, and GM is proud to offer programs like the Military Discount as a small token of appreciation. As a part of Chevy Racing, Chevrolet was able to support one of the largest tributes to the men and women in uniform. This tribute happens every year just before the Indianapolis 500race gets underway. Prior to the race, active-duty soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, take to the track and are saluted by the 300,000 people in attendance. For the men and women who actually get to be on the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway track and hear the crowds roar, it’s an experience never to be forgotten.
Rick Scheidt, U.S. vice president for Chevrolet marketing, is proud his brand played a role in the military salute. He said, “We’re privileged to be able to participate by providing the Silverados that many of the service men and women will be riding around the track in.” This year more than 150 troops climbed into Silverado trucks for the heroes lap around the 2-½ mile oval. The crowd erupted with thunderous applause and chants of “USA, USA” as the troops circled the track.
Prior to moving on to the track, the soldiers lined up while Lt. Col. Kip Clark of the Indiana National Guard talked about the importance of public support for the military. “We recognize the importance of the public support and we can’t do our job without the support of the general public and it’s just really nice to see everybody here. As we were walking in (we heard) a lot of applause.” And – as if on cue – people entering the track saw the soldiers and started clapping and cheering. A quick smile crossed the colonel’s face, but he quickly resumed his military persona as he said, “it’s especially humbling to be here and be recognized.”
This year was the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 and Chevrolet is also celebrating its 100th anniversary. Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president for GM performance vehicles and motorsports, feels it’s fitting to have the Chevrolet brand as part of the military recognition. He says, “It’s Memorial Day weekend and it’s really two American traditions, Chevrolet and the Indy 500, coming together to salute the military.”
The men and women who proudly and bravely serve our country all gave approximately the same reaction as they climbed out of the Silverado trucks after their tribute lap. Staff Sgt. John Warren from Fort Bragg, NC put it this way: “Outstanding. One of the best rides of my life.” And to highlight the humility so many of these men and women bring to their job, one sailor asked, “Are you from Chevrolet? Thanks for hosting us. It was a good time.” The only appropriate response is, “No, thank YOU for all you have done for all of us.”