Written by Robin Berger

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Topics: US Army, NASCAR

Sunday, 27 May 2007

image for US military promotes NASCAR drivers to higher ranks
NASCAR drivers celebrate upon learning of their military promotions

The U.S. Department of Defense has released the promotion list for NASCAR drivers and pit crew members who are sponsored by the various military services.

NASCAR veteran Mark Martin was promoted to the rank of Colonel "for his heroic leadership as the commander of the Army 01 car," according to the promotion list. Because Martin is in his 25th season in the NASCAR Cup Series, he will outrank all other colonels with less than 25 years of military service.

Ken Schrader rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel "for demonstrated leadership ability as the commander of the Air Force 21 car." Schrader, now in his 24th season in the NASCAR Cup Series, will outrank all other lieutenant colonels with less than 24 years of military service.

Jon Wood, who is an 11-year veteran despite being only 25 years old, was promoted to the rank of Captain "for sustained superior performance." The promotion list noted that Wood's application to upgrade his reserve commission to a regular commission was also approved.

NASCAR rookie driver Regan Smith was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant "for demonstrating his ability to command an Army 01 pit crew." However, Smith's promotion was practically guaranteed for bureaucratic "time in grade" reasons.

No. 21 crew chief Ernie Cope was promoted to the rank of Chief Master Sergeant for reasons not stated in the promotion list. According to Wikipedia, Cope was at one time an officer in NASCAR, but his driving record failed to earn him a regular commission. He then got caught up in the Pentagon's "Reduction In Force" (RIF) cutbacks in 1999. Rather than get out of the Air Force, Cope accepted a Senior Master Sergeant position so he could finish his career, which would allow him to retire at the end as a major.

No. 25 crew chief Darien Grubb was promoted to the rank of First Sergeant for reasons not stated in the promotion list.

No. 01 Crew chief Ryan Pemberton was promoted to the rank of Sergeant First Class "for leading the Army 01 pit crew to its first victory against an overwhelming enemy race car force in October 2004" at the Kansas Speedway.

The promotion list revealed that no Navy or Marine NASCAR members achieved higher ranks during this promotion cycle.

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