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NASCAR's Kahne takes a different kind of ride at Fort Bragg

Posted April 23, 2015

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— NASCAR fans are used to seeing driver Kasey Kahne behind the wheel, but on Thursday he traded in his seatbelt for a safety harness and took a different kind of ride at Fort Bragg.

Kahne joined the 82nd Airborne team to spend the day learning what it’s like to be in the Army. Part of the experience included a jump from a 34-foot tower meant to simulate jumping out of an airplane.

“Once you’re up there, it’s higher than what it looks like from the ground,” he said. “It was interesting. I enjoyed it. I thought it was pretty neat.”

Sarah Hash, 10, is one of Kahne’s biggest fans. She came to watch the jump and had nothing but praise for her idol.

“He did a good job,” she said.

Thursday’s event was a promotion for the Coca-Cola 600, which takes place Memorial Day weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Like in past years, there will be a huge military presence on race day.

“NASCAR is really good to the military family,” Sarah’s mom, Laura Hash, said. “Any opportunity we get to go to the races, we did.”

Maj. Gen. Jefforey A. Smith, Bragg’s deputy commander, said race day means a lot to soldiers and their families.

“It’s quite an amazing day out there to have 90,000 people to stand up and clap their hands just to honor soldiers and their families and the sacrifices that our soldiers make for our country,” he said.

For Kahne, it’s all about respect.

“It’s neat to be able to race on that day and show our respect in any way that we can to the men and women who have served and are still serving for our country,” Kahne said.

To wind up his training day at Bragg, Kahne ate lunch and took pictures with Gold Star wives whose husbands were killed in action. He also took in a little artillery training.

He said it’s a day he won’t forget.

“It’s really special to take this and know a lot more about it when I leave today,” Kahne said.

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