NASA Meets NASCAR: A celebration at Homestead-Miami

Buzz Aldrin named Honorary Race Chairman

Buzz Aldrin, one of the first men to land on the moon, will serve as the Honorary Race Chairman for the Ford 400


On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, carrying Mission Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to land on the Moon—fulfilling President John F. Kennedy's goal of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s.

As one of the men who paved the way for lunar exploration, legendary astronaut Aldrin will serve as Honorary Race Chairman for Sunday’s Sprint CupFord 400. Homestead-Miami Speedway will celebrate the 40-year anniversary of his incredible accomplishment by honoring the “best of the best”—the NASA Apollo astronauts—during NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 20-22).

As one of the world’s most recognizable astronauts—the second human to step foot on the moon—Aldrin will be honored on-stage during pre-race festivities before getting into a 1969 Ford Mustang to lead the pace car and race field. For great seats and hospitality options for Ford Championship Weekend, call (866) 409-RACE or visit

“In this 40th-year celebration of man walking on the moon, what an honor to have Buzz Aldrin circle THE Championship Track in a 1969 Ford Mustang,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Curtis Gray. “Buzz is an American hero and his presence at Homestead-Miami will serve as a deserving tribute to the history he and NASA made 40 years ago this year.”

Festivities begin at Coke Zero RaceFest Thursday evening (Nov. 19), as the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and NASA will bring the moon to the fans with a special interactive display celebrating the 40th anniversary of the moon landing—including an opportunity to touch an actual moon rock and meet veteran space shuttle astronaut Jon McBride, pilot for STS-41G aboard the Orbiter Challenger.

But the relationship between NASA and NASCAR doesn’t end there: In fact, much of the innovative technology used in today’s Sprint Cup Series—which on Sunday will crown its Champion following the Ford 400—was developed by the space shuttle program and can lead to lighter, cheaper and more efficient vehicles. Consider:

• NASA created an oil-saving seal that has found its way into the Sprint Cup Series: Sealing gaskets that were created to stand up to the extreme conditions of space flight now also keep car engine oil clean, increasing the life of the vehicle.
• The lubricants that protect the 750-horsepower NASCAR engines also were developed by NASA; a plasma-spray coating eliminates the need for liquid lubricants in racing engines.
• The threat of fire led NASA to create a chemically treated fabric to protect astronauts that won’t burn or give off fumes. This innovation is now used to make suits for NASCAR drivers and pit crews.
• NASA developed a strain gauge on a mobile robot to detect destructive forces on the robot’s frame, and this gauge now also measures the strain on NASCAR suspension systems in vehicles approaching 200 MPH (where an unexpected suspension failure could be catastrophic).
• NASA’s search for heat-tolerant space materials led to composite materials for brake linings that wear longer, cost less and stand up under friction temperatures (up to 650 degrees Fahrenheit). Those same materials help stop a 3400 pound Sprint Cup Series car today.

Indeed, the similarities between NASCAR drivers and NASA astronauts are profound, and the shared technology has found a fit in both the cockpits of race cars and in space shuttles. Both professions require work at extremely high speeds, cope with the effects of G-forces, require reliability and safety under extreme conditions, and involve engineers and support crews to perform well. In addition, both endeavors are symbols of America.

And those worlds mesh this weekend in Miami, where you can see them drive for just $55. Parking is FREE at Homestead-Miami, and guests are welcome to “bring their own” food and beverage in a cooler measuring 6x6x12—with unlimited re-entry to allow for restocking in the parking lot. Tickets for the Sprint Cup Championship start at just $55 and are available by clicking here or by calling (866) 409-RACE.

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