U.S. Serviceman Wins Daytona Prize

J.VanKleeck

Jason VanKleeck, a First Sergeant of the 287th Military Police Company from Fort Riley, Kan., submitted the winning entry in "The Great American Race Fan" Photo Contest. (Photo: MRN)

As a soldier in the United States Army deployed in Afghanistan, NASCAR fan Jason VanKleeck was some 7,700 miles from Daytona International Speedway when he watched this year’s season-opening Daytona 500 on television.

He’ll be considerably closer to the action in 2013 as the Grand Prize winner in “The Great American Race Fan” Photo Contest, a joint promotion of the Motor Racing Network and Daytona International Speedway.  VanKleeck, a First Sergeant of the 287th Military Police Company from Fort Riley, Kan., submitted the winning entry.  The photograph was taken in February 2012 as he listened to the 54th running of the Daytona 500 from Kandahar Province.

VanKleeck, who returns to the U.S. this month following his fourth combat tour in support of the global war on terrorism, gets the keys to a 2013 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS convertible as the Grand Prize winner.  He’ll also receive a Daytona 500 VIP experience for two that includes grandstand tickets to the race, a tour of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage and an introduction to the crowd during pre-race activities.

“I look forward to returning to America with my soldiers after ensuring their safety and care for the past year,” said VanKleeck, a 16-year Army veteran whose most recent deployment has covered the last 11 months.  “Being able to go to Daytona is a great prize.”

To enter the contest, VanKleeck and others submitted photos showing what makes them the “greatest” and “most authentic” race fan to www.motorracingnetwork.com or www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.  Consumers also were able to enter the contest by visiting MRN and DIS Facebook pages.

“Motor Racing Network and Daytona International Speedway have built a strong partnership through the years and we were honored to have Chevrolet join us for this program,” said MRN President and Executive Producer David Hyatt.  “It’s a great way for us to create additional excitement for a new NASCAR season, tap into the enthusiasm and passion of our fans, and steer them to the broad range of information and services available on our respective websites.”

A committee comprised of staff from Motor Racing Network and Daytona International Speedway selected 10 finalists from among all contest entries.  Internet voting was conducted from Nov. 9-30 and the winning entry was drawn earlier this month.

VanKleeck and his wife, Amanda, were married in November 2011 just prior to his most recent deployment.  He grew up in Indianapolis, and watched his father drive Late Models and open-wheel Modifieds throughout the Midwest – saying he’s “been a race fan since I could talk.”

Tickets for the 55th running of the Daytona 500 … on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 … can be purchased by visiting DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com or calling 1-800-PITSHOP (748-7467).

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