Keith McGee to become first Alaskan to start a national NASCAR event
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Keith McGee will not only be the first Alaskan, but also the first disabled veteran to race in a national NASCAR event. McGee, who is from Eagle River, will be racing in the ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck series April 17.
McGee served eight years in the U.S. Air Force where he was stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, during which time he suffered a traumatic brain injury. After recovering for a couple of years he became a contractor and started a family. It wasn’t until the Extreme Fun Center opened up in Wasilla that he started to dabble in racing, and for McGee it was much more than just going around the track as fast as he could.
“At first it was like, I want to go and be good at this because this is the best I’m ever going to do, but it quickly turned into therapy for me because I could go to the track and get on the go kart and for those 15 minutes I was like, just you know, free essentially.” McGee said.
Free from issues that far too many veterans face when returning to civilian life, McGee liked the feeling so much that he was going back four or five times a week to hit the track. He quickly started to climb the ladder. He became number one in the state and set the track record, and he also won the first karting championship that was held there. The go-karts got the ball rolling and then McGee was off to a bigger track. He started to race at the Alaska Raceway in Butte.
His first year he did well, and in his second year he nearly won the championship missing it by a few points, he said. It was after his second year racing at the Alaska Raceway when his career started to really take off.
McGee started to race in the Lower 48, starting in the K&N Pro Series where he got two top ten finishes. He was then invited to test at Daytona for Automobile Racing Club of America, which opened up many opportunities in his racing career.
“Tomorrow I’ll become the first Alaskan to start a NASCAR race and I’ll also become the first disabled veteran in the history of NASCAR,” McGee said. “So, you know, those two things are a lot of pride in both of them. I think what it means for not only Alaska, but the entire veterans community is is huge.”
McGee has partnered with Mission 22, an organization that is trying to prevent veteran suicide.
“When you think about how many veterans are taking their own lives every day, 22 of them is, you know, that’s 22 too many, and something has to be done,” McGee said. “And hopefully, hopefully, we can spread some some awareness to the cause.”
Due COVID-19 precautions, McGee’s first NASCAR race experience is a little different then it would normally be. There is no practice and no qualifying laps, just the actual event. The race starts at 9:30 a.m. Alaska time and will be aired nationally on Fox Sports 1. To learn more about or support Keith McGee, visit his website.
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