Photo Information

Col. Robert D. Clinton, the air station executive officer, speeds through a turn in his 2002 Chevrolet Corvette at an autocross event hosted by the Single Marine Program, April 11. The race, also hosted by the Sports Car Association of America, is the first of three events planned for Cherry Point this year.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brian Adam Jones

Marines put pedal to metal for autocross event

16 Apr 2010 | Lance Cpl. Brian Adam Jones

As always, jets roared thousands of feet above Cherry Point, April 11. But on this warm spring morning, engines of a different sort rumbled down the flight line.

The Sports Car Club of America, in conjunction with the Single Marine Program, hosted its first of three autocross events aboard the air station this year.

More than 100 participants preregistered for the event. “We were shooting for 80, we got 101,” said Larry Johnson, the assistant coordinator for the SMP. “I’m shocked at the amount of car enthusiasts out here today.”

Partakers ranged from amateurs to professionals who towed their own formula race cars. Cherry Point racers varied from a lance corporal in a 1990s Mazda RX-7, with numbers duct taped to the door, to the station executive officer, Col. Robert D. Clinton, who drove a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette convertible.

“I support this because our young Marines work hard and need a positive, controlled environment to have fun and release energy,” Clinton said. “The SCCA and the SMP work hard to put this thing together, so I thought I’d come out and show my support.”

Clinton said he wasn’t planning to race anyone else, just to do his best and beat the clock.

Competitiveness didn’t seem to be on the minds of many, with most seemingly looking to have fun and putting driving skills to the test.

“I was out here last year and felt I came out a better driver,” said Capt. Jonathan P. Glass, an aviation maintenance officer with Marine Attack Training Squadron 203. “I’m really just looking to have fun and post some good times.”

As cars of all makes and models squealed through a maze of orange cones in controlled chaos, there was a general feeling of excitement among the more than 100 drivers.

“It was a big adrenaline rush,” said Lance Cpl. Chris T. Carpenter, a loadmaster with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252. “I definitely want to do it again.”

While plenty of Marines from Cherry Point took part in the event, a few Marines from Marine Corps Air Station New River and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune took advantage of their close proximity to participate in the fun.

“I’m just going to try to be competitive,” said Cpl. Todd M. Ellens, a helicopter power plants mechanic with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26. “Cherry Point’s SMP is very accommodating and very active.”

For more information on upcoming events, contact Cherry Point’s Single Marine Program at 466-3027.

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point