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NEWS | Aug. 14, 2023

NASCAR Team Honors Major Thomas McGuire’s Legacy

By Staff Sergeant Sabatino DiMascio 87th Air Base Wing

The colors of Major Thomas McGuire’s personal plane, “Pudgy” flew again the weekend of July 22 at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Explore the Pocono Mountains 225. Team Jordan Anderson Racing painted their number 27 entry in tribute to the design that Maj McGuire flew during World War II. Driven by Xfinity Series driver Jeb Burton, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning tribute scheme represented the five different aircraft flown by Maj McGuire, each bearing the nickname of his wife Marilynn “Pudgy.” He tragically lost his life in action on January 7th, 1945, while serving in the Philippines and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.


“I felt an immense sense of honor and pride while donning the iconic colors of Maj McGuire” Burton commented, “It’s not just about racing; it’s about carrying the legacy of a true American hero and paying tribute to those who serve and protect our nation.”


In addition to the paint scheme, the team invited several Airmen from the 305th Air Mobility Wing to attend as personal guests of the team, including wing commander Col Elizabeth Hanson. The Airmen were granted an exclusive glimpse behind the scenes look inside the NASCAR garages and a spot on the starting grid during the singing of the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, a 305th AMW KC-46 Pegasus, with the call sign ‘Pudgy 27,’ flew over the track, synchronized with the closing anthem notes.


“I was struck with a profound realization while being right in the heart of the race amidst the roaring of the engines and cheers of the crowd.” Marveled Senior Airman Jessika James, a C-17 jets maintainer. “It was more than just an exhilarating experience. It was a testament to spirit and unity, respect and determination that resonates both on the track and here in the Air Force. When Jeb sped past the track in the tribute car, I felt a surge of pride. The tribute was not just for me as a currently serving Airman, but a salute to every service member who stands for the values we cherish.”


This isn’t the first time Jordan Anderson Racing has raced a paint scheme in support of the Air Force. In May 2022 for Memorial Day weekend, a C-47 D-Day themed scheme ran and finished 10th out of 38 other cars, nor is this the first involvement Jeb Burton has with the military. Him and his father, 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, operate the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, which promotes conservation. The foundation works directly with the multiple Army National Guard units through the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program, which limits encroachments and other constraints on military training, testing, and operations by establishing buffers around installations.


Burton showcased his skill throughout the intense race by navigating all 90 laps and evading various accidents, to include several on the final lap. He was able to maintain his starting position and ultimately crossed the finish line in 12th place out of 38 racers.