FORT WORTH, Texas (July 7, 2011) – NASA Pilot Doug Hurley is taking Texas Motor Speedway to new heights Friday, representing “No Limits” on board Atlantis - the 135th and final mission of NASA’s space shuttle program.
Hurley, a season-ticket holder at Texas Motor Speedway since 2005, was presented with a three-foot by five-foot “No Limits” flag from Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage prior to April’s Samsung Mobile 500. The flag will be alongside the four-person crew of Hurley, Commander Chris Ferguson and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim as they set off for a 12-day mission to the International Space Station.
While thousands of souvenirs are included in the STS-135 Official Flight Kit inventory, NASCAR is the only professional sports series on board Atlantis. In addition to the Texas Motor Speedway “No Limits” flag, a NASCAR flag and Joe Gibbs Racing cap will make the four-million-mile journey to the International Space Station and back.
The final voyage of Atlantis is scheduled to lift off from Kennedy Space Center Friday at 11:26 a.m. ET (10:26 a.m. CT). Click here to watch NASA’s live stream of the historic event.
Hurley has been a lifelong NASCAR fan and one of Texas Motor Speedway’s most devoted race fans. In April he was honored by introducing the top-10 starters for the Samsung Mobile 500 Sprint Cup Series race.
“I think it will work great,” Hurley said during his press conference in April. “I took a Texas Motor Speedway sticker up the last time I went and gave it to Eddie. But I look forward to taking the flag up there, going about 25,000 mph for a little while and then 17,000 mph the rest of the trip. I'll bring it back here in the fall.”
During the 2009 Dickies 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Hurley helped deliver the Chevrolet Camaro pace car in grand fashion, as it arrived on the frontstretch via a Chinook helicopter and Hurley drove the pace car off the aircraft prior to the start of the race.
(Photo: FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 08: A Chinook helicopter arrives with the Chevrolet Camaro pace car and Space Shuttle Endeavour pilot Doug Hurley during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 8, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway))
(Photo: FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 09: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Crown Royal Black Ford, greets Space Shuttle Atlantis pilot Doug Hurley, who introduced the top-10 qualifiers, prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway))