Summit Racing driver Greg Anderson took a few moments between flights to talk about his experiences during this year’s Summit Racing Equipment-sponsored holiday visit to U.S. troops stationed overseas, which was arranged by Armed Forces Entertainment. We talked with the four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion at Vienna’s international airport, the bridge between Kosovo and Bosnia.
Greg, Summit teammate Jason Line, Summit Racing/BIGFOOT Monster Truck driver Dan Runte, and Harley-Davidson Pro Stock Motorcycle riders Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines visited bases in Stuttgart, Germany and Pristina, Kosovo in this year’s tour.
It’s been very, very interesting. I thought last year was incredible and this year has been incredible in a different kind of way. We’ve traveled more than last year and made more stops. We’ve met very interesting soldiers, mostly American, some international; all happy to see us. No matter where we’ve gone–Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo, completely out of the-way places–the troops appreciate our visit and make us welcome. We try to carry the message that we can’t thank them enough for their service, and we’re honored to be here. We feel blessed. Amazing people, absolutely amazing. As I said last year, it is definitely an eye-opener and a feel-good trip; it just keeps getting better, day-by-day.
I didn’t notice any significant differences between the troops on different bases; whether it was a first-class facility with a lot of amenities, and a lot of things for the soldiers to do in their off time, or an obsolete, older patched-together, out-of-the-way base with no real amenities or activities. It didn’t matter – everyone is positive, they’re happy, no complaints. Nobody’s unhappy to be here. This is a new and neat experience for them and they are living life to the fullest, no matter what their conditions. These soldiers do not complain. So we are happy to share their accommodations, including “the Cans” at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo–barracks fashioned from shipping containers.
Because of the hospitality, The Cans were as good as any five-star accommodations I’ve had. It was good to be treated like a fellow soldier, like one of the troops.
Many of these folks are race fans and automotive enthusiasts. They have all kinds of questions. They want to know about everything that’s happening–what’s changed in the sport, how fast the cars going, what kind of horsepower we’re making. Some of them have been able to follow the sport and some have been out of it a long time; busy fighting the war and chasing from country to country. Despite the separation from home, a lot of the troops have deeps roots in racing.
Every one promises to come back to the races as soon as they get back to the States. There are a lot of race fans in the armed forces. And there are a lot of fans of our armed forces in racing, that’s for sure, including our Summit Racing Team and the Harley-Davidson Pro Stock motorcycle drivers
Every place we go there have been surprises, interesting people, a lot of neat stories. Some of these folks would like to spend all day talking to us to catch up on news from home. It surprises me that, as important as their jobs are, they still want to talk about what’s going on in my life, what’s going on back home and what’s going on in this city and that city, what it takes to race competitively. It’s a real eye-opener, it’s something I’m glad I’m involved with and something I’d definitely do at every opportunity. I want to be the first one in line. It’s a great feeling. I hope we can bring some good cheer to the soldiers because they are amazing.
Operation Appreciation: Eddie Krawiec’s Thoughts on Days and One and Two
Operation Appreciation: Jason Line and Team Venture into Kosovo
Operation Appreciation: Runte Enjoys Small Group Atmosphere of this Year’s Trip
Operation Appreciation: Andrew Hines Reflects on “Eye-Opening Experience”