Honored by speed racers

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Stan Paregien
  • 932nd Airlift Wing

The National Hot Rod Association held their Midwest Nationals at the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Motorsports, Madison Illinois, with Lt. Col. William McLeod, 932nd Maintenance Group commander, invited to help start the event as an honored guest, Sept. 29, 2019. 

At left, Doug Kalitta is an American auto racing driver from Michigan and owner of the airline, Kalitta Charters. Kalitta formerly raced in USAC events. He was the 1991 USAC rookie of the year in the midget series, and won the 1994 championship in the sprint car category, while last year he won the season opener in Pomona, reached five final rounds, and qualified for the NHRA Countdown to the Championship for the 11th year in a row.  At far right, driver Ritchie Crampton has 10 Career Wins, 12 Career Final Rounds and hit 329.91 miles per hour as a Career Best Speed. 

Col. McLeod was brought on stage during the opening ceremony and presented an NHRA challenge coin and waved to the cheering crowd.  

“It was certainly an honor to be invited to the NHRA as an honored guest,” said McLeod. “I always had interest in racing, but never the skills to drive that fast.”

McLeod toured the pit areas and was given some insight on the maintenance of the these high performance cars.

“I really enjoyed walking around to the different teams and being invited in to see how they assembled these cars and the hard work and dedication to the sport by not only the drivers, but the folks behind the scenes that were professional and knew how to work together as a team,” said McLeod.

McLeod took notice of the immaculate pit areas for each team and how they maintained such a high level of work area cleanliness and professionalism while on the road.

“I thought it was very interesting coming from a maintenance background and could tie many similarities to the hard working men and women in Air Force Maintenance today,” McLeod said.  McLeod did his part as a good citizen by giving a 932nd Maintenance Group coin to a brother and sister who were waiting for the race to start.  The event was action packed from start to finish with most speeds over 300 miles per hour.  The 932nd Maintenance Group is part of the 932nd Airlift Wing training reservists at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.  McLeod's group is responsible for maintaining jet engines and aircraft on the C-40C planes.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Stan Paregien)