LAKE MARY, Fla. - The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform a flyover at the 63rd annual Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway this weekend.
The Great American Race marks the season-opener of the NASCAR Cup Series and can be seen on FOX and FOX Deportes on Feb. 14 (2:30 p.m. ET). Live Daytona 500 pre-race coverage begins on FS1 with NASCAR RACEDAY at 11 a.m. ET, before the show’s move to FOX and FOX Deportes at 1 p.m. ET.
The flyover will mark the 11th consecutive year, and 12th total, that "America’s Ambassadors in Blue" – officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron – will showcase their precise choreography at the end of the National Anthem.
Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images via NASCAR Media.
"We’re honored to have the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds continue to be a part of the traditional DAYTONA 500 pre-race ceremonies," Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. "For both the thousands of fans in attendance and the millions more watching on television, the sight of the USAF Thunderbirds soaring over the race track at the end of the National Anthem is one of the most exhilarating and treasured moments of the DAYTONA 500 experience."
"We are excited to fly over the Daytona 500 again this year," said Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Commander and Leader of U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. "This amazing event has kicked off our demonstration season for the past ten years, and we are grateful for the partnership between the Speedway and Air Force. There is always a lot of enthusiasm surrounding this race, and we’re honored to share the pride, precision, and professionalism of the 693,000 total force Airmen to NASCAR fans around the world."
The Thunderbirds, which first flew in 1953, feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft. Assigned to Air Combat Command, the squadron is composed of 12 officers and more than 120 enlisted personnel serving in nearly 30 Air Force job specialties. They hold performances over nearly 30 weekends between April and November.
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