Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NASCAR Recap: A Trip To Remember

Our traveling heroes returned to home soil from their NASCAR adventure yesterday, all four of them changed men. The days spent absorbing the atmosphere that is the Daytona 500 won't soon be forgotten.

The trip included such spectacles as the Richard Petty Experience, a racing simulation camp of sorts that allows participants to drive on the track at Daytona pushing high speeds for eight laps around the ring. We reported on that last week. Check the link below to see that article.

The Richard Petty Experience

The boys also got some time in the pits with both the Peterson Motorsports team, in the ARCA series, and with MacDonald Motorsports from Nationwide. Our troops got close to the action with MacDonald but experienced pit work first hand with Peterson catching tires and re-fueling gas cans for the team.

Our four guests even gained a small level of celebrity while at Daytona when there were featured on NASCAR radio right by the track. We managed to post the radio interview in an article we wrote last week right after the boys went to the airwaves.

Click here to hear the radio segment

Last but certainly not least were the races themselves. According to our boys the roar and rumble of the engines all speeding in unison towards a common goal was something to behold. If they weren't addicted to racing before they all are now.

Our thanks go out to our guests and all members of the Canadian Forces, Cpl. Michael Opatovsky, MCpl. Joseph Lavoie, Cpl. Mark Wellings, and Cpl. Andrew Latulippe . After such a resounding success at Daytona, Canadian Heroes intends to repeat the event next year. It's some time till the next Daytona 500 but we are already thinking about it.

And check our Facebook page history for day by day accounts of the trip.

Mark and Drew holding their Richard Petty Plaques

Thursday, February 17, 2011

From Heroes To Celebrities

Either by freak chance or divine intervention our heroes at NASCAR managed to add another life experience last night, Wed, Feb. 16, when they were interviewed on NASCAR radio. Claire B. Lang took 5 minutes on the airwaves and spoke to our boys about their experiences both in Afghanistan and at Daytona. Hear the interview now, just click on our link below. Keep watching for more updates as they occur.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nascar Keeps Getting Better

The Daytona experience for our traveling soldiers has been a huge success so far. Our boys have been exposed to races, camping, behind the scenes events and even serving on the pit crew for Peterson Motorsports. Yesterday, our heroes received the cherry on top in the form of the Richard Petty Experience.

"It's one of the coolest things I've ever done," said Master Corporal Joseph Lavoie.

At 3pm on Monday, local time, our four traveling soldiers took to the tarmac at Daytona International Speedway for a quick lesson in racing basics and 8 laps of high speed action. After the tutorial the new racers were taken on the track and led around the loop by a pace car. Drivers are allowed to go as fast as the pace car. Master Cpl. Lavoie claimed top speed among our troops with a speedometer reading of 148.02 miles per hour.

"It was fun to go that fast legally. I've always wanted to see what I can do," added Lavoie.

According to Joe, a longtime racing fan, driving the world renowned track was amazing.

"It's like a little kids dream".

"We even had dinner with some of the race staff. That was pretty cool," he said.

The Richard Petty Experience may have been the cherry, but it certainly wasn't the only notable event from the week abroad. Taking part in the pits with Peterson Motorsports and camping rank high on the list as well.

"The ARCA race and Peterson Motorsports have been amazing. There is too much to tell," added Lavoie. "We've seen how a race team functions.

According to Joe, the electricity and reality of being in the heat of the pits is surreal.

"One of our jobs was to catch the tires (as they are replaced). To actually get behind that crew wall during a race... I can't even think of the words for how happy we are," said Lavoie. "Being part of that crew was a life altering experience".

Apparently our soldiers have been well received in general.

"Everyone has been so nice here. It's heartening. People find out that we are Afghan Veterans and they say thank you. I hope more soldiers get to experience just how amazing this is. We all wanted this badly," finished Lavoie.

The week isn't over yet and hopefully our boys will get to see and do even more.

Check back once the boys are back in the Great White North. We will be doing a more detailed interview with all four soldiers and posting it along with additional pics from the days in Daytona.

Thanks as always to our troops. Hope you guys had fun!

Four Canadian Heroes to Experience Daytona 500 | Ubiquitous Magazine Inc.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Richard Petty Experience for our Canadian Heroes

For Cpl. Michael Opatovsky, MCpl. Joseph Lavoie, Cpl. Mark Wellings, and Cpl. Andrew Latulippe the Daytona trip, arranged through Canadian Heroes, just keeps getting better and better. This year their valentine's are grease and asphalt as they take part in 'The Richard Petty Experience' or RPE.

Coming off watching and participating behind the scenes, our #06 car competed in the ARCA 200 series, which was the first race of the 2011 Daytona season on Sat.

Today, our four guests are getting a taste of life on the NASCAR tour. They will be participating thanks to the RPE. They will need to pass an initial testing and once they receive their passing grade they will be driving an actual Nascar around the high banks of Daytona for 8 laps, and reaching speeds of 150mph!

We have posted a number of great pics from the Daytona trip on Facebook. Check them out. We'll keep you posted on the events and goings-on at Daytona as they unfold. Check back here soon to hear about the soldiers experiences and what it was like to help in the pits.

As always a big thank you to all of our brave men and women in the Canadian Forces..

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Four Canadian Heroes Preparing for Daytona

Last night Cpl. Michael Opatovsky, MCpl. Joseph Lavoie, Cpl. Mark Wellings, and Cpl. Andrew Latulippe arrived in Hamilton. The four soldiers met with Chris Ecklund, media and friends. They were so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Daytona experience. To add to the already unique experience Chris let them in on another surprise that he has planned for them in Daytona. On Feb. 14 the soldiers will participate in the Richard Petty Experience! We will keep you up to date as the event unfolds. Click on the YouTube links for an introduction and a special "Thank You" from each one of the four Canadian Heroes attending NASCAR.

Cpl. Michael Opatovsky:

MCpl. Joseph Lavoie:

Cpl. Andrew Latulippe:

Cpl. Mark Wellings:

The Canadian Heroes Car in tech inspection at Daytona today

Rear end TV bumper of Canadian Heroes Car at Daytona

The 4 soldiers arrived at Canadian Heroes HQ.

Monday, February 7, 2011

CanadianHeroesHood race car getting hood decal

Well here she is folks the Canadian Heroes Car getting her hood decal applied and getting ready for Daytona!!!

At the Dundas Legion with the Canadian Heroes Memorial Car