For the seventh consecutive year, Summit Racing Equipment and Armed Forces Entertainment will join together to send a group of top motorsports competitors overseas to visit American troops on duty in remote locations. The annual trip, appropriately coined Operation Appreciation, will this year make stops at various stations in Japan. The drivers and riders will have the opportunity to meet men and women of the American Armed Forces and bring them a little bit of home just as the holiday season is kicking into gear.
Summit Racing NHRA Pro Stock drivers Greg Anderson and Jason Line; Summit Racing/Bigfoot 4x4 Monster Truck competitors Dan Runte and Larry Swim; and Harley-Davidson NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle riders Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec will once again make the journey as a group.
"Operation Appreciation is something very special that we look forward to each year," said Anderson, who first joined the group in 2011. His Team Summit counterpart Line, whose first overseas visit with the troops was in 2008, will be making his 10th trip. "It really puts things into perspective for us, and each trip has been unforgettable in its own way. This year we have the opportunity to visit the men and women of our Armed Forces who are on duty in a place we've never been. It will be very different from any of our other visits overseas, and I'm sure we're going to learn a lot. The main goal, though, is to bring a little bit of home to these service members. These visits mean a lot to us, and to be able to thank these folks in person is an honor."
Hines, representing Harley-Davidson and Vance & Hines, has family ties in the military and was part of the Jr. ROTC as a youth. The 2017 tour will be the sixth time that both Hines and Krawiec have been part of Operation Appreciation. Their first trip to visit the troops was in 2012.
"We're both very excited to be visiting our service men and women in a different part of the world," said Hines. "This tour will be a unique experience compared to the past years. Our troops are definitely in a different environment compared to where we have visited previously, and we look forward to seeing how our military branches work in the Japanese culture. We're ready to bring a little piece of America to our troops stationed in Japan."
This year's trip will mark the sixth time that veteran Bigfoot 4x4 driver Runte has participated in Operation Appreciation. He stepped back from driving full-time after one last hurrah behind the wheel of the iconic Monster Truck last year in Kuwait, and he is still elevated by the thrill of sharing the experience with the troops. Although he'll be leaving Bigfoot at home this time around, he and full-time driver Swim, who first joined the tour last year, are eager to visit with the folks serving our country.
"This will be my first time visiting Japan, and this is going to be really neat," said Runte. "It's a place I've always wanted to visit, and it's different than anywhere we've been before with Operation Appreciation. I'm excited to meet these new people and see their different operations. I thought last year would be the last time I got to do this, so I'm very honored that the folks at Summit Racing asked me to come along this year. This is always an opportunity that I look forward to, because those guys and gals over there do so much for us. It's a neat experience, and every trip is one I will never forget."