TALLADEGA, AL – The Freedom Trophy, Talladega Superspeedway’s newest tradition to honor our Country’s military, will be presented to the winner of the CampingWorld.com 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Oct. 25 by Colonel Eric F. Buer, United States Marine Corp Pensacola, FL.
The coveted Freedom Trophy was introduced by Talladega Superspeedway track officials in May of 2014. It is awarded to every winner of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held at NASCAR’s Most Competitive track by a member of one of the five military branches of the United States. Colonel Buer will have the distinguished honor of making the presentation after the drop of the checkered flag at the CampingWorld.com 500, the final race in Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, where the field of 12-drivers eligible for the title will be cut to eight.
The Freedom Trophy is a spectacular work of art. Silver aluminum panels, complete with a design of each military branch service member and branch logo are showcased, along with a star that is a waterjet cut in the center. Black stained wood makes up the trophy’s base, with circular discs at the bottom while the top is made of black acrylic that includes the Talladega Superspeedway logo, the date of the race and the name of the base awarding the trophy.
Colonel Buer, who was part of the well-known “Blue Knights,” has been presented with numerous prestigious honors, awards and military decorations that include: the Navy Commendation Medal with Gold Star, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, the Defense Service Medal with OLC Distinguished Flying Cross with ‘V’, the Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star and the Air Medal with ‘V’ gold numeral 2 and Strike/Flight numeral 17. After he was commissioned through the Platoon Leaders Class in 1988, he attended the Basic School and Infantry Officers Course and then reported to Pensacola, Florida’s Naval Air Station for flight training.
In 1991, Buer joined the “Gunrunners” of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 to fly the AH-1W Super Cobra and deployed with the “Thunder Chickens,” in 1992, in support of Operation Teamwork in Norway, Operation’s Cease Fire in the Persian Gulf and Restore Hope in Somalia. In 1994, he deployed with the “Blue Knights” in support of Operation’s Continue Hope in Somalia, Deny Flight/Provide Promise in the Adriatic Sea and in 1995, in support of Operation Joint Endeavour in the Former Yugoslavia. In 2001 he graduated from the USMC Command and Staff College and rejoined the “Gunrunners,” serving as the Maintenance Officer for the squadron’s deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom II in 2004 and Operation Iraqi Freedom 04-06 in 2005. In 2010, Buer received assignment to the National War College as Professor of National Security Strategy and Policy and then was deployed as a Special Advisor to Headquarters, International Security Assistance Force, Kabul, Afghanistan in 2012.
“We are extremely proud to continue the prestigious Freedom Trophy ritual here at Talladega Superspeedway,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “There’s nothing we like more than showing support for our country’s troops who fight each and every day for our freedom so that we can put on NASCAR events here. They deserve all the recognition in the world. We can’t wait to have Colonel Eric F. Buer with us for the CampingWorld.com 500.”
Talladega Superspeedway has always proudly brought patriotic elements to the grand 2.66-mile venue, showcasing some of the most recognizable displays to celebrate troops in all of NASCAR. Talladega works closely with numerous military bases throughout the southeast to bring members of the military to NASCAR’s biggest and baddest track. In addition to recognizing the military through the Freedom Trophy, Talladega Superspeedway is proud to offer special ticket prices for all members of the military and their families for its race weekends. For more information, visitwww.talladegasuperspeedway.
Talladega’s weekend kicks off on Friday (Oct. 23) with practice sessions for both the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola and the CampingWorld.com 500. Saturday’s (Oct. 24) slate includes Foodland/Food Giant Qualifying for the CampingWorld.com 500, time trials for the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, as well as the drop of the green flag for the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race (starting atnoon CDT). The event will feature veterans like Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter as they try to hold off hard-charging young guns like Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and Timothy Peters, the defending champion.
Last year’s CampingWorld.com 500 saw three of NASCAR’s top names – Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski – all enter the race needing a win to advance in the championship battle and it was Keselowski who accomplished the feat. For all ticket information, call 1-877-Go2-DEGA.
About Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway is NASCAR’s Most Competitive Track (record 88 lead changes in 188 laps), most banked (33 degrees), and longest (2.66 miles), as well as the most fun and fan-friendly, offering up hundreds of acres of free camping, amazing kids ticket prices and special offers for military members and college students. The historic venue, built in 1969, is NASCAR’s “Party Capital” thanks to the track’s infamous infield, which features the traditional Saturday Night concert and the world renowned Talladega Blvd, home of the “Big One on the Blvd” party. It is the site of the most comfortable seats in motorsports, large video viewing boards (a new initiative planned for future implementation at all ISC tracks) lining the frontstretch and endless activities for fans throughout its event weekends. Log on to www.talladegasuperspeedway.