Jerry Eckman served in the U.S. Army as an advisor to South Vietnam during the early years of the Vietnam War. Little did he know some 50 years later this investment of patriotism would yield drag racing dividends.
Eckman, who serves as a car chief for Steve Kent’s Pro Stock team, will drive in Pomona. Kent’s decision was prompted by the fact Veteran’s Day 2012 is on November 11; final elimination day for the NHRA AAA Finals.
“Steve called me up and let me know I was his favorite veteran and since Pomona fell on Veteran’s Day weekend, he wanted me to drive again,” said Eckman with a smile. “What a guy.”
This will be the second national event in 15 years for Eckman whose status was restored to favorable with the NHRA after partially paying a fine and serving a suspension for an unsafe practices penalty in 1997.
Eckman relicensed after a lengthy hiatus in the sport and competed in qualifying for the NHRA U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend. He fell short of qualifying, ending the rain-delayed event as the No. 18 qualifier.
“I absolutely feel redeemed in being back out here,” said Eckman. “My first runs were a little clumsy. It got better as the weekend went along. I got more comfortable.”
Competing Veteran's Day weekend is a bonus as Eckman considers Pomona to be his home track.
“I love racing there and have won a few events there,” Eckman said. “Then to race on Veteran’s Day as a veteran is pretty emotional.”
Adding to the emotion will be the added responsibility of carrying the mementos of three Medal of Honor recipients throughout qualifying and hopefully into Sunday’s final eliminations.
“They will be taped to my dash,” added Eckman. “What an honor for me.”
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