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NASCAR Driver Carl Edwards and contestant winner dog fight over the Mojave
MOJAVE, CALIF. (August 1, 2006) - If driving around a race track at speeds of 200mph wasn't enough for NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, flying high above the Mojave Desert at speeds of 500mph might be a bigger thrill. Coming off a hometown win last weekend at Gateway International Raceway in the Busch Series, Edwards spent the day Tuesday dog fighting and barrel rolling in an L-39 jet. Edwards, who is a pilot himself, looked forward to flying a different type of aircraft.
Edwards, who won his fourth Busch Series race this past weekend at Gateway International Raceway, joined Ford's contestant winner Brian Wright for a day of flying in Southern California. Wright, an employee of Bank of America in Charlotte, N.C. won Ford's "Carl's Thrill Ride" sweepstakes and was provided with round-trip tickets for him and a guest to join Carl for an afternoon of flying L-39 jets. Ford launched the sweepstakes in conjunction with its season debut of the Ford Fusion which first took to the track in Daytona in February.
Edwards and Wright began their day with a briefing by their flight instructors David "Hollywood" Riggs and Skip "Bandit" Holm [from Hollywood Top Gun]. Holm, who served three tours in the Vietnam War, has also recorded a record number of flight-combat hours. After the briefing, Edwards and Wright were led to their respective aircrafts and buckled into what would be a 20-minute flight to Mojave Airport. The flight to Mojave included a number of barrel rolls, flips, twists and high-speed rollover maneuvers.
Even while flying L-39 jets, Edwards couldn't take his mind off the race track. While flying high over the desert, Edwards found a test track on the ground and with the help of "Bandit" took "laps" around the track. Flying at little over 30 feet above the ground, Edwards provided Wright some pointers on how to get around the track quickly. According to the pilots, Edwards recorded speeds of over 450mph.
Edwards and Wright recorded over 75 minutes of dog fighting. At times,
Edwards would be the aggressor, trying to capture Wright, then roles
would be reversed and Wright would attempt to capture a win from Edwards.
In the end, each logged more than seven victories each, but both came
out winners in the "Thrill Ride" of a lifetime.
"It was incredible out here today," said Wright on his day in the sky. "To be the winner of 'Carl's Thrill Ride' and spend the day out here with Ford, Carl and my brother was awesome. This is such an unbelievable experience; I don't know how to describe it. It's surreal, almost like you are floating up there. You have to keep your eyes open and watch out for Carl, he was fast up there. The pilots out here are phenomenal, the jets are so powerful and agile - they move on a dime."
When asked about turning laps around the track with Edwards, Wright responded with, "Yeah, we did a couple laps around the track and then rolled out of one of the turns. It was an awesome experience."
Edwards hopes the practice he received while flying the L-39 jets will help him pilot his Office Depot Ford Fusion into Victory Lane.
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