By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zach Martin, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs
AT SEA (NNS) -- National Association of Stock Car Automobile Racing (NASCAR) Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series celebrity driver Carl Edwards took time to travel to the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower on, Aug. 16.
Edwards is best known for winning the 2005 NASCAR Busch Series Rookie of the Year and 2007 Busch Series Champion awards, along with the 2011 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
Edwards and his group made an arrested landing on the ship's flight deck in a C-2A Greyhound, part of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40, and spent time observing Dwight D. Eisenhower conducting carrier qualifications (CQ) from the flight deck.
"There's absolutely no comparison between what I do and what these men and women do for thirteen hours every day on the flight deck," Edwards said. "The sacrifices you guys make, taking huge risks, the dedication and the hours you all put in is incredible."
Master Chief Gunner's Mate (SW/AW) Jason Robertson, one of Edwards' escorts, said he's been a lifelong racing fan and was thrilled at the chance to meet Edwards not only for himself, but for his family.
"I like Mr. Edwards myself but I'm most excited because I will get a picture and autograph for my father-in-law," Robertson said. "I would also like to thank Mr. Edwards for taking time out of his busy schedule to show respect for all our service men and women."
Following the group's experience and watching flight operations in action, Edwards set up shop in the ship's hangar bay to sign autographs and interact with the crew.
"Everybody has been awesome, I've met people from all over the country, and even some from my hometown," Edwards said. "I even met someone whose sister went to prom with my brother!"
Lt. Raleigh Stahl, assistant air operations officer for Commander, Carrier Strike Group EIGHT, was one of the Sailors in line to receive an autograph from Edwards. "He's a NASCAR driver, and I'm excited to be here," Stahl said, "It's awesome to see one of the guys you watch every weekend here on the ship."
Following the signing, Edwards joined the crew on the ship's mess decks for dinner, and was surprised with a belated birthday cake celebrating his day-prior Aug. 15 birthday.
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Samantha Fergus, who designed, baked and built Edwards' birthday cake, said the chance to create pastry art for a sports celebrity was an opportunity for her to showcase her talents.
"I'm really excited," Fergus said. "It was my first real celebrity experience."