However, after using Ramstein Air Base in Germany as their base of operations for the past two years, this year’s tour will branch out to include other countries, with stops in the United Kingdom, Bosnia and Kosovo. The 2012 tour runs from November 24 – December 1 and is being arranged through Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE).
Joining this year’s line-up of drivers will be Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec, who ride Pro Stock Motorcycles for the famed Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Racing team in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Hines and Krawiec will join fellow champions Greg Anderson and Jason Line, and Dan Runte, driver of the legendary BIGFOOT monster truck, during the week-long trip.
“We’re excited to be going back to visit the troops,” said Jim Greenleaf, Motorsports and Events Manager for Summit Racing Equipment. “After two great years in Germany, we decided to change things up a bit, working with the people at Armed Forces Entertainment to devise a schedule that includes bases that might not see as many visitors. We also moved the date of the trip back a week so we would not interfere with the Thanksgiving holiday, trying to maximize the number of soldiers we will get to see, hoping to bring them a little piece of home.
“We’re also thrilled to have Andrew and Eddie joining us on this year’s trip and want to thank Harley-Davidson and the Vance & Hines/Screamin’ Eagle team for making their participation possible. Every racer on this year’s tour is a multi-time champion, and they represent a great cross-section of the very best in American motorsports.
“Even though we won’t leave until after the racing season is over, preparations are well underway. We’re calling this year’s tour “Operation Appreciation,” because that is our primary objective – to show our appreciation to the brave young men and women whose sacrifice allows us to enjoy our lives of freedom. It is shaping up to be a great trip.”
Two-time Pro Stock champion Jason Line is the veteran of the group in all senses of the word, having served in the U.S. Air Force making the trip for the last three years. Even so, he is excited by the prospects of this year’s trip, especially as it will include stops at new bases, like RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, England, home to the 422nd Air Base Group.
“This trip is a really big deal, and I’m glad to be a part of it,” said Line. “It’s important to give back to those who do so much for us and it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to do so. Without their sacrifice, we would not be able to do what we like to do.
“After going to Germany for the last few years, it’s going to be interesting to go to the different bases. I’m not sure how much they are into drag racing in those countries, but it will be a lot of fun to spend some time with the troops and bring them a little taste of home. I’m also looking forward to having the Harley guys join us this year – it’s going to be a fun trip.”
This year’s tour will be Line teammate Greg Anderson’s second, and following his experience of a year ago, he is more than ready for a return trip.
“Last year’s trip was a great thing to be a part of, and I kick myself for not begging to be on an earlier trip,” said Anderson. “The cool thing is that I get to go back this year and experience it all again, and the fact that we’re going to different places makes it even better. I’m really looking forward to it.
“I could go on and on about the benefits of making this tour and what it seems to do for the troops, but it does just as much for us in that we can feel we helped out in some crazy way, which is a great feeling. We can never repay all these guys and girls enough for what they do for us, and we wish we could do more, but making this trip at least it feels like we try to do something, which is a cool deal. I am definitely signed up to go back for as long as they’ll let me go, and my only regret is that I didn’t ask for the chance to do it earlier.”
The Summit Racing-sponsored trips have included at least one tour rookie, and this year the KB Racing teammates will be joined by their two-wheeled equivalents from the legendary Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Racing team.. For three-time champion Andrew Hines, the trip will be an opportunity to show his thanks.
“This trip will be a great way to give back to the military,” said Hines. “We appreciate everything they do for us to give us the freedom to come out and do what we love to do. To be able to go over there and talk with all the guys and gals one-on-one and let them tell us what they do will be something very special.
“I was in Junior ROTC throughout high school, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for everything they have done for us over the years. I grew up learning about all the history my dad had in the military being in the Army back during the Vietnam War and it’s going to be very interesting to see some of the work the troops are doing now, and to give something back to them.
“Hopefully they will really enjoy seeing Harley-Davidson riders. Harley-Davidson is an American icon, and I believe we have a tremendous following overseas, so we’re going to try to give the troops some great times to remember and put smiles on some very deserving faces. This is something that is very special to be a part of, and something I’ll remember for a lifetime.”
Completing the roster of NHRA champions will be two-time and defending Pro Stock Motorcycle titlist Eddie Krawiec. Much like his teammate, Krawiec appreciates the chance to give something back by bringing a small piece of home to the troops, representing a brand that is synonymous with the United States.
“This trip is something I’m really looking forward to,” said Krawiec. “I think it will be a life-changing experience, getting to see everything the troops do to preserve our freedom and allow us to do what we want to do. For us to be able to pay them back in some small way is a lifetime opportunity and something not many people are even asked to do, so I’m glad to be a part of this tour.
“I can’t wait to do something for the troops. I know they get a lot of enjoyment from watching our Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Racing team, and in some of their eyes, we’re the heroes. But in reality, they are the ones to be looked up to, and this trip will be our chance to tell them that and thank them for their sacrifice.”
As the official Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel overseas, Armed Forces Entertainment and its performers have the honor of supporting soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors by bringing them the very best in American entertainment. It hosts more than 1,200 shows around the world each year, reaching more than 500,000 personnel at 270 military installations. From muddy makeshift stages to show-stopping extravaganzas, the performances bring a piece of home to those stationed far away from home. Learn more at www.armedforcesenterainment.com