FORT WORTH, Texas (March 21, 2012) – Carl Edwards is no stranger to attacking the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition on the track, but on Wednesday he received a new kind of lesson in taking down the opposition.
Edwards, along with Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage, took part in a special training session with Sgt. Todd Plowman and members of Fort Worth’s SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) team at the Fort Worth Police & Fire Training Center.
Edwards experienced the high-risk job of serving as a member of the Fort Worth SWAT team. During the crash course, Edwards observed as Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage fired a 40mm Grenade Launcher, Benelli M4 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun and Colt M4 Commando 5.56mm carbine with suppressor.
Edwards opted for some of the other training exercises that included rappelling down the side of a six-story building and facing “live” situations in a hostile environment simulator and having to defuse the situation with armed force. He also appropriately arrived to the event in the Fort Worth SWAT team’s Bearcat tactics vehicle and later took it for a spin.
For Edwards, who is used to pushing the limits in a stock car, the opportunity to experience the specialized training methods of the Fort Worth SWAT team offered a new challenge but the same type of rush. Rappelling Master Instructor Daniel McCreery briefed Edwards on the technique and the NASCAR star opted to relish the moment by going to the top floor of the six-story building to begin his descent. Following Edwards, McCreery came down in SWAT-like fashion by descending headfirst down the side of the building.
“I was taking that first step with the rappelling, stepping out that window,” said Edwards, who was in Fort Worth to promote the April 14 Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. “That’s a lot like driving the car 205 miles per hour down in a corner for the first time of the weekend at Texas. You’re like, ‘Man, I hope this works out. I hope all the nuts and bolts are tight.’ … These guys make it look so easy and after doing it I can tell you it isn’t as easy as it looks, especially if you’re going down headfirst like that.”
Another highlight of the event came when Edwards took part in a live tactical “scenario.” Edwards was briefed with the Fort Worth SWAT team regarding the situation that had arisen that was dubbed, “Operation Gossage.” SWAT intelligence had learned that Gossage was being held “hostage” by none other than defending Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart in a “NASCAR safe house.” The suspect was panicked about defending his Sprint Cup Series crown and was armed with Gossage in hand.
With Edwards observing the scene with Sgt. Plowman, members of the Fort Worth SWAT team swarmed the house firing a flash-bang grenade to rescue Gossage during the simulated hostage situation.
“I think as much as he pays us to win his races he is worth saving,” Edwards said with a chuckle. “I can’t really imagine what it’s like living your whole life knowing that your phone can ring and you have to go to a situation that can be very, very difficult or impossible. That’s a different way of living your life and it’s one that when you need that help and you need their help, we are fortunate that they are there.”
Edwards proved to be the ideal student. His experience to reacting quickly and the ability to handle the adrenaline rush are some of the characteristics that are found within the members of the Fort Worth SWAT team and caught the eye of Sgt. Plowman.
“Carl did an excellent job today,” Sgt. Plowman said. “With him being a NASCAR driver, you can tell he’s an adrenaline junkie and that’s our kind of guy, so he was right at home with us. He asked a lot of questions about our work and showed a lot of interest in what we do and we respect that. His enthusiasm throughout the entire event was awesome and we had a great time with him.”
Edwards’ next stop in Texas will be for the April 14th Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Edwards has seen his share of success at “The Great American Speedway!” as his three victories are the most among Sprint Cup Series drivers and in 2008 he became the first driver to sweep both Texas Cup races in the same season.
Edwards turned in a pair of solid performances last year at Texas Motor Speedway with a third-place finish in April’s Samsung Mobile 500 and runner-up performance in November’s AAA Texas 500.
“This Texas race is awesome,” Edwards said of the Samsung Mobile 500. “Our 99 team is the only three-time winner here at Texas Motor Speedway so that’s huge. I think a 500-mile race Saturday night under the lights in Texas is exciting. This is what people are excited about and hopefully we can get a victory there. We know how to win here and we just would like to go do it.”
Tickets for the Samsung Mobile 500 are available by contacting the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500, or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.