Connect with us

NASCAR Cup Series

Briscoe and Chastain Take Flight on AF Thunderbirds

Chase Briscoe and Ross Chastain might have started side by side on Row 6 for Thursday’s Bluegreen Vacation Duel No. 2 at Daytona International Speedway, but first, they went on a flying adventure at SHELTAIR.

The two were invited by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and strapped aboard a jet that is able to push 9 Gs into a corner. Not only that, but the jets also push 600 mph and can fly across DIS in five seconds.

From the competitors’ eyes, it pales in comparison to what they’re accustomed to on any given Sunday.

In Their Words

Ross Chastain: Nothing compares. I used to think racing at Bristol was like flying fighter jets at a gymnasium, but that’s false. That is not what we do. It’s a whole another level and I see why so many of these boys and girls fall in love with airplanes, the sky, and space.

I got to control the stick a little bit and I made the low-speed warning come on because I turned it into two 360-degree backflips, and I should’ve done one.

Watermelon Man, Ross Chastain, prepares to take his inaugural ride with the AF Thunderbirds. (Image: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish)

Chase Briscoe
When it was going 9 Gs, I weigh like 200 pounds and my body was feeling like 1800 pounds and I believe it. I never felt anything push my limits. It literally feels like it’s trying to rip your face off. It just felt so intense. I honestly can’t put it in words. It was so unbelievable. It’s so cool.

Honestly, I feel like it’s going to make the racecar feel slow now. Hopefully, that’ll help me tonight but it’s by far the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced for sure.

Locked and loaded. NASCAR Cup Series Rookie, Chase Briscoe, is ready to ride. (Image: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish)


AF Thunderbird Advance Pilot and Narrator, Major Jason Markzon, was really impressed with both Briscoe and Chastain’s efforts. He commented that both were quick learners and adapted to the challenge that comes to flying one of those bad boys.

Maj. Markzon: Ross was very gracious and had a wonderful time during the flight. That’s what we’re trying to do. Just show him a great time so he can get out there and inspire. Just like we do – go out there and inspire others.

Chase did awesome. He did a great job. We took off. It was beautiful weather. We went and flew over the Cape Canaveral Airspace and he crushed it. We really kind of flew through the profile very quickly. It says a lot of his mental fortitude and toughness going through and being able to complete all the maneuvers and sequence without stopping.

When asked how people that partake in an incredible experience like flying adapt into such speed and g-force, Maj. Markzon shed some insightful thoughts that could be relatable to anyone.

Chase Briscoe and Ross Chastain flying high about Daytona. (Image: Luis Torres / The Podium Finish)

on Chastain: Ross did a great job. Over 200 mph is right. We doubled that and were going pretty much at 600 mph. We got to fly over the NASA launchpad and facilities. And we did everything. We did loops, we did rolls, and we pulled 9 Gs. Ross went through it all. He did a great job. When we came back, we got around Turns 2-4 in about five seconds, so that was pretty quick too.

Maj. Markzon on Briscoe: It’s just natural to be a little nervous. And then once you kind of strap the jet on, you start to feel a little bit more comfortable. By the time you take off, I think you’re really kind of along for the ride. It’s one big fun roller coaster. So, the nerves started to fade away and felt comfortable. We just kind of crushed everything.



It’s safe to say, those who are involved in the Air Force are certainly heroes. That is why Daytona International Speedway has invited them back to each “Great American Race” for the past 10 consecutive years. This Sunday’s 63rd running of the Daytona 500 will mark their 11th, which is certainly a highlight of the event.


Follow the sights from the adventures of the AF Thunderbirds on Twitter

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR and INDYCAR. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. On the side, I also do sports production ranging from Seattle Kraken hockey to the 2023 NCAA Women's March Madness. All for the love of the game. With four National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. At times, there might be some Paul Thomas Anderson and Southern California references in my social media.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NASCAR Cup Series