The trip caps off a full season of on-track competition and has become a much anticipated event for Summit Racing NHRA Pro Stock drivers Greg Anderson and Jason Line, Summit Racing/Bigfoot monster truck racer Dan Runte, and Harley-Davidson NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racers Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec. This year, the group will return to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to visit troops.
“From the beginning, Operation Appreciation has been an experience that we all feel very fortunate to be part of,” said Jim Greenleaf, Summit Racing Motorsports and Events Manager. “It is truly an honor to spend time with the men and women of our Armed Forces. Great memories are made on this trip, and a lot of lasting friendships are formed.”
The troop visits have become an important part of the off-season for four-wheeled motorsports competitors Line, Anderson, and Runte.
“This is certainly something that we all really look forward to every year,” said Line, who served in the Air Force before launching his racing career. “Spending time with the troops means something to all of us. It’s something we don’t take lightly. It’s kind of funny because the folks over there always try to make us feel like we’re something special, when it should really be the other way around.”
Anderson agreed wholeheartedly.
“It’s a great eye-opener and a very humbling experience,” said Anderson. “We live in a great country here in America, and you just don’t realize how good you truly have it until you step out of your comfort zone and see things from a different perspective. We’ve been to far off places way off the beaten path with these trips, and it’s always a great experience. My hat is off to all of those service men and women, and I always appreciate the opportunity to thank them in person. It’s a very neat experience.”
Krawiec and Hines will participate in Operation Appreciation for the fourth year.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have been part of this trip for the last few years, and it’s been awesome,” said Krawiec. “We are able to appreciate so much more than ever before what the members of the United States Armed Forces do for us. Ever since I’ve had a first-hand view and been able to meet the troops at these military installations, it just really puts things into perspective. We want them to know how much we appreciate what they do.”
For Hines, the trip is always a particularly meaningful event as his father, Byron Hines, served in the U.S. Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam.
“It’s something very special to get to travel overseas and spend time with these men and women of the United States military,” said Hines. “You hope to brighten their day a little bit, and it’s good to see those smiles. The whole experience is one that we don’t take lightly, and we’re always grateful for the opportunity.
“The biggest thing I get a kick out of is seeing them at work, having the chance to talk to folks in line as we’re waiting for meals. It’s definitely a different perspective for us, and they always tell us that it means so much to them that we’re there – I know it means the world to me. You definitely come home with a renewed respect for these men and women and what they are doing.”
Runte has been part of Operation Appreciation from the beginning of the partnership with Summit Racing and AFE.
“It’s always great to spend time with my fellow travel mates; they are such a great group of guys. But what I most look forward to is spending time with our amazing troops and getting to see a little piece of what a day in their life involves,” said Runte. “They are so gracious, and I am so honored to meet them and hear their stories. I’m very thankful to Summit Racing and AFE for allowing me to be part of these adventures the past few years.
“The troops are the true heroes of our country, and they deserve more recognition and respect than we give them. They make me extremely proud to be an American. I am truly blessed to meet these heroes.”
Along with Summit Racing’s Facebook page, OnAllCylinders will once provide real-time coverage from the trip. Check back frequently for behind-the-scenes photos and updates.