Daytona 500 News Update: Government Sequester Military Cuts Could Limit Flyovers At NASCAR Events In Future, Jimmie Johnson Damages Car

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Feb 25, 2013 11:07 AM EST
Daytona 500
Military flyovers are a staple at NASCAR events and at the Daytona 500, but those might become a thing of the past and at other sporting events nationwide due to a substantial amount of military spending cuts.(Photo : Reuters) "

Military flyovers are a staple at NASCAR events and at the Daytona 500, but those might become a thing of the past and at other sporting events nationwide due to a substantial amount of military spending cuts.

According to ESPN.com, military spending cuts to the Air Force at up to 30 percent have forced the branch to trim flying hours by up to 20 percent, part of which will come from air shows. Some of those air shows include the Thunderbirds aerobatic flying team that is set to perform before the "Great American Race."

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Daytona International Speedway did not have a flyover for the Rolex 24 and one was not planned for Saturday's Nationwide Series opener, which featured a scary car wreck that saw 28 spectators injured at the track.

The report says that there is a plan in place for automatic budget cuts (aka the sequester) that will be triggered on March 1 that would suspend all flyovers right away, apart from the Thunderbirds, which will stop on April 1.

"If sequestration kicks in, we'll be looking not to support any future NASCAR races," Wendy Varhegyi, the chief of the engagement division for Air Force public affairs, told ESPN.com. The plan would suspend all flyovers in all sports "at least through the end of the fiscal year [Sept. 30]," said Varhegyi.

The sequestration rules call for across-the-board spending cuts March 1 unless Congress agrees on an alternative, which has been an issue for since many right wing politicians have been unwilling to budge on any plans.

There will be no flyover for the March 3 Sprint Cup race next week at Phoenix, although Las Vegas Motor Speedway already has an agreement with the Thunderbirds teams for the March 10 event.

"That's as good as we can get from our military contacts at this point," said Marcus Smith, the president of SMI.

Military flyovers have been a staple at American sporting events for many years, especially NASCAR. According to the report, Chitwood added a number of fireworks to go off at Thursday's duels to make up for the lack of flyovers. Smith, who is the president of Charlotte Motor Speedway, said there is a chance there will be no flyover for the Memorial Day Weekend Coca-Cola 600.

"It's a great thing to celebrate our country and the military," Smith said. "My kids and a lot of people out there don't know what a National Anthem sounds like without a flyover. It's kind of part of it. It will be sad if it comes down to politicians that we don't have flyovers."

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