A Conversation with Christopher Britt: Ticket Galaxy 200's Honorary Starter and Veteran Experience Winner
“I want to thank you,” said Christopher Britt, an Air Force Sergeant and Desert Storm Veteran. “This weekend is something I’ll remember for a lifetime. I can’t thank Ticket Galaxy enough for that.”
Britt arrived to Phoenix International Raceway on Friday afternoon on a different agenda than the thousands of other NASCAR fans that flooded the stands for Fall Race Weekend including the Ticket Galaxy 200.
Ticket Galaxy 200: The Veteran Experiences
Ticket Galaxy is the proud sponsor of the Ticket Galaxy 200 and Official Partner of Phoenix International Raceway. This year’s Ticket Galaxy 200 fell on Veteran’s Day.
In celebration of the holiday and as a thank you for the veterans who have served, Ticket Galaxy chose two veterans to take part in the weekend’s Experiences with the help of VetTix. Britt was one of the veterans who won.
“I was at a Rick Springfield concert with my wife when I got the email that I was chosen,” Britt said, “I started yelling ‘I got it! I got it!’” Britt has been a NASCAR fan for years after “a bunch of buddies got me into it.”
“There’s nothing quite like making a left turn,” Britt said, followed by one of his warm, bellowing laughs.
During race day, Britt enjoyed the exclusive Driver’s Meeting, Pre-Race Ceremony, Victory Lane, and green flag wave as the Honorary Starter. This was in addition to his own race weekend tickets for him and three family members and a Pace Car Ride on Sunday. Michael Kimbrell, the second winner and E-5 Army Sergeant veteran, participated in similar Experience activities including the Grand Marshal Car Ride before the race began.
Fall Race Weekend and VetTix
In regards to Fall Race Weekend, Phoenix International Raceway is a special place for NASCAR fans in the Phoenix area. “Coming out to this one, it is in your backyard.”
Susanna Britt, Britt’s wife who joined the interview, agreed. “When you’re at the track, you can hear it, smell it, taste it. It’s up close and personal.”
In addition to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last race in Phoenix, Fall Race Weekend’s electric atmosphere had a lot more to do with the passion of NASCAR community than anything else. According to the Britts, this is credited to the comradery in NASCAR.
“You sit there on the campers, have some drinks, fire up the barbeque. It’s the full weekend, the banter back and forth, the camping.” That’s what makes the NASCAR community so loyal and strong. That’s what it is: a community who enjoys the competition as much as the play.
VetTix is the organization that aided in selecting the veteran Experience winners. VetTix provides tickets and event opportunities to a confirmed database of veterans across the country. This ranges from Disney World trips to football game tickets. Thanks to donations from companies, teams, and financial donations from anyone willing to contribute, veterans and active military members get to enjoy events for free.
Veteran's Day: A Holiday and A Topic
Ticket Galaxy chose to celebrate Veteran’s Day in a special way to give thanks to so many who sacrifice for our country. When asked about the importance of Veteran’s Day, Britt said the best that people can do is be patriotic.
“I wish it was called ‘American Day’ and not Veteran’s Day,” Britt said, “People don’t need to recognize us; just be proud of the country and be proud to be an American.”
Mrs. Britt chimed in to add, “We may not be a perfect country, but we’re a good country.” The Britts seem to agree that glorifying veteran appreciation may have its downsides, but that the recognition and respect is always appreciated.
Britt isn’t the first in his family to choose a life of military service. His father served in the military for 21 years, and his mother and middle sister are also in the military as well as his thirty-year-old son. In addition, Mrs. Britt’s family is heavily involved in military service.
“Everybody in my family is very proud,” Britt said. “The experience that you get is different for each one.”
Britt's Military Service Experiences
Britt has had particularly unique experiences during his active service. “I was stationed in Berlin when the Berlin Wall fell. I spoke German at the time and asked someone what was going on. They said, ‘They’re taking down the wall!’ And I joined in.”
He told me that there aren’t enough of those stories out in the world regarding active duty. Mrs. Britt agreed. “Focus on negativity, breed negativity,” she said. “There's so much more good in the world.”
Inevitably, active duty is not sunshine, nor is it the darkest night. Britt was involved in the Gulf War and continues to deal with PTSD relating to sudden, loud noises. Since his Air Force mechanic days, he has a continued ringing in his ears.
However, there are always these flickering, pure tales in Britt’s experiences.
“Directly after the Gulf War, I was flying a Chinook helicopter with Italians into Iraq. We were taking Kurdish refugees to the hospitals. An old lady was having a hard time getting into the helicopter because she was holding a baby. I took the baby to help her get in, and as I gave the baby back, I saw a flash. Sure enough, a photographer captured the shot, and it landed in the Stars and Stripes newspaper. When I got back to my unit in Germany, it was hung on the wall.”
Both Britt and Mrs. Britt are introspective and understanding regarding his experience. It was his job, they said. No bells or whistles or special fuss needed.
#GalaxysStars Experience Winner
In addition to the two veterans, Ticket Galaxy chose a Galaxy Experience Winner from the #GalaxysStars campaign. Melissa Shoemaker and Sheldon Shoemaker enjoyed the exclusive race activities including the Driver’s Meeting, Pre-Race Ceremony, Grand Marshal Car Ride, Race Weekend tickets, and Victory Lane.
They joined Britt and Kimbrell throughout many of the Experience activities.
Since his time in the military, Britt continues his mechanics career. He is a systems engineer at PF Changs and settled down in Arizona. Britt credits the military with giving him focus and discipline but also ambition.
“I’d be flipping burgers if it wasn’t for my service,” he said.
Furthermore, it’s changed his perspectives on his relationships as well. Loyalty and the standards level of his relationships are more important than ever. These, he said, are lessons that he wouldn’t have learned from a typical 9-5.
Britt waved the Ticket Galaxy 200 Green Flag on Saturday in front of a crowd humming with excitement. This Veteran’s Day will be one to remember, full of checkered flags and the steady roar of the stockcars.
“It’s the comradery,” Britt said, “That makes NASCAR fans so loyal.”
Hear it. Smell it. Taste it.
Do you want to participate in a Galaxy Experience? Check out the ones available at this link: www.ticketgalaxy.com/pages/experiences
Written by Jenna
The Launchpad Blog is written and made possible by our team members at Ticket Galaxy. Each contributing writer shares their passion for the sports, music and entertainment industry.
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