MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The deep, rumbling rev of Ford Mustangs and the quiet, vibrating purr of Ford Fiestas heralded the start of Ford’s Operation Drive One event, held in the Main Exchange’s parking lot June 4.
The event is one of several scheduled at various Department of Defense installations across the nation. Each person who registered at any of the events has a chance to win a private Toby Keith concert for their installation, one of two 2011 Ford Mustangs and one of eight trips to the Ford Championship NASCAR race weekend in November.
“The military has always been a big supporter of Ford [with individual vehicle sales], and we want to recognize that and give back to and honor the Armed Services,” said Curt Jaksen, from Team Detroit, which handles Ford’s advertising. “We want to give armed services personnel a little escape and fun for the day.”
Among the attractions Combat Center service members, local military retirees and their families enjoyed was a chance to test drive 2011 Ford Mustangs and Fiestas on a precision driving course and meet former wrestling champion and actor Bill Goldberg.
“I am so proud and excited to join Ford in support of Operation Drive One and recognize the men and women of the armed forces who serve our country every day,” Goldberg said in a Ford press release about the event. “If we can provide a break for our troops and their families while raising money for a great cause, there's nothing I'd rather be doing over the coming months.”
The timed precision driving course featured two Ford Mustangs and two Ford Fiestas. Each Combat Center driver was paired with a professional driver who went along for the ride, offering tips to really unleash the vehicles’ true capabilities.
“As we like to say in the business, drive it like you stole it,” Jaksen said.
The test drives also helping raise money for the National Military Family Association. For each test drive completed, Ford will donate $20, up to $10,000.
The day also appealed to Marines’ competitive sides with several physical challenges, including a two-minute pull-up challenge and the Ford F150 truck push. Set up next to each station was a board with the top score from a previously-visited station – in this case, an Army base.
Ford employees dared passersby to beat the Army’s top scorers, heckling those without the will to step up and prove once and for all which service is stronger. By the end of the day, both events proclaimed Marines the best.
“I’m a competitive person. Us being Marines, beating anybody is a good feeling,” said Sgt. Albert Garcia, a scout squad leader with 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, who claimed top score for the pull-up challenge. “We close width and destroy the enemy in everything.”
Garcia was also one-fourth of the team which claimed top time in the Ford F150 truck push.
At the end of the day, car enthusiasts and curious passersby all left with a good feeling, having helped raise money for a worthy cause and having had some fun along the way.
“The event was great,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Brophy, the training staff noncommissioned officer in charge for Marine Wing Support Squadron 374. “It was a good set up and some great cars.”
“It was a great event to draw Marines out here,” Garcia agreed. “We got to check out new vehicles, check out what Ford has to offer in years coming. I saw Marines out there having fun.”
For more information about-or-on the Ford: Operation Drive One tour or to register to win one of the many prizes, visit http://www.fordoperation driveone.com. The contest is open to all current and former members of the military.
Editor’s note: Neither the occurrence of this event on a DoD installation or inclusion of this article in the Observation Post imply sponsorship of the Ford Motor Company by any facet of the DoD. The opinions reflected in the article are the views of the individuals expressing them.
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