By Julie M. Lucas
NAS Jacksonville Public Affairs
Race car fans were offered the opportunity to meet and greet a lively driver aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville Jan. 31.
Clint Bowyer, who drives the No. 14 car with Stewart-Haas racing, posed for photos and signed autographs for fans of all ages.
"I've been a fan of race cars forever and I'm a very big Clint Bowyer fan," said Josiah Logsdon, age 10, who got his mother to take a photo of him with his idol.
Also on display was the Daytona 500 trophy and pace car for the upcoming race. Some fans of Bowyer's were lined up for hours waiting for the driver's arrival outside the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Information, Tickets and Travel office (ITT).
"Clint is one of the most colorful drivers and he is a fan favorite because he is just a good old boy," said NASCAR fan Mike Mitchell, Navy retiree.
Following the meet and greet, Bowyer was given a tour of Heritage Park and its historic planes by NAS Jax historian Ron Williamson.
Bowyer showed particular interest in the different parts of a 1940s Stearman biplane on display in the park.
Bowyer became a NASCAR driver in 2006 and has won multiple races. He mentioned a memorable Daytona 500 where he had a final lap crash and crossed the finish line upside down.
Bowyer also visited the Paul L. Nelson Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic (CHSMWL) Training Facility for a tour that included viewing maintenance training of helicopters and operating a MH-60R Tactical Operational Flight Trainer.
"Just to see the training and exercises these military members go through is amazing," Bowyer said.
"It really makes you feel good knowing the rigorous training they endure to protect us and this country."
Bowyer also said that he hoped that service members would be attending some of the races this year.
It's always fun to see the military at the race track - they are my heroes," he said.
Tickets for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26 are available at the ITT office. For more information, call 542-3318.