Soldier and Iraqi war veteran receives trip to NASCAR race

Sgt. George Perez defines what it means to serve in the military: dedication, service, bravery, and an unrelenting desire to get the job done. He proved this in Sept. 2003, when the Humvee on which he was riding was hit with an IED (improvised explosive device), causing him to lose one leg below the knee. But all that did was strengthen his resolve.

"I don't mind fighting a war that keeps my family safe back home," said Perez, who just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan and will return to Iraq next year. "I love my job. It's exciting and I will definitely retire as a Soldier."

This indomitable spirit is one of the reasons senior leadership at Fort Bragg, N.C., selected him as the most recent Pioneer Services "Pole Position Award" winner. The Pole Position Awards are a nomination process that rewards members of the Armed Forces who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Those who are selected as deserving by their senior leaders will receive tickets to a race and get to tour the pits and garage area as guests of Team Rensi Motorsports and Pioneer Services.

Perez and his wife, Christina, attended the CarQuest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., on May 27. A representative of Team Rensi Motorsports provided a tour of the speedway, including the team haulers, garage area, inspections stations, and pit road. Perez also met Ashton Lewis, Jr., driver of the number 25 car, and the two discussed Iraq for several minutes, with Lewis thanking Perez for all he has done.

During the race, Perez and his wife watched the action from the pits and listened to the communication between the team and Lewis. While Perez was already a race fan, the day gave him a new appreciation for what it takes to run a team.

"It was great to be so close and see all of the action," said Perez. "The best part was probably the pit stops—it was cool to see how fast those guys work on the car.