Maxwell Airman presents trophy at Talladega

The pace car sits outside the garage and pit area at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Oct. 19, 2014. The pace car was painted pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert)

The pace car sits outside the garage and pit area at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Oct. 19, 2014. The pace car was painted pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert)

Senior Airman Donald Googe Jr., 42nd Air Base Wing Legal Office paralegal, shakes hands with NASCAR driver Tony Stewart during the Geico 500 Talladega Superspeedway pre-ceremony in Talladega, Ala., Oct. 19, 2014. The ceremony included remarks from special guests and showcased the 43 drivers participating in the race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert)

Senior Airman Donald Googe Jr., 42nd Air Base Wing Legal Office paralegal, shakes hands with NASCAR driver Tony Stewart during the Geico 500 Talladega Superspeedway pre-ceremony in Talladega, Ala., Oct. 19, 2014. The ceremony included remarks from special guests and showcased the 43 drivers participating in the race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert)

The crowd watches as the cars speed by during the Geico 500 race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Oct. 10, 2014. The Talladega Superspeedway is arguably NASCAR’s most competitive race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert)

The crowd watches as the cars speed by during the Geico 500 race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Oct. 10, 2014. The Talladega Superspeedway is arguably NASCAR’s most competitive race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert)

Senior Airman Donald Googe Jr., 42nd Air Base Wing Legal Office paralegal, presents the Freedom Trophy to the Geico 500 winner, Brad Keselowski, at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Oct. 19, 2014. The Freedom Trophy showcases the five branches of the military to honor and recognize  military members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert)

Senior Airman Donald Googe Jr., 42nd Air Base Wing Legal Office paralegal, presents the Freedom Trophy to the Geico 500 winner, Brad Keselowski, at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Oct. 19, 2014. The Freedom Trophy showcases the five branches of the military to honor and recognize military members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --  Forty-three cars zoomed around the track, getting faster with each of the 188 laps.  The crowd roared in excitement and went wild when their favorite driver advanced in the race, but their cheers couldn't be heard over the deafening roar of the engines.  They watched in awe when cars collided, leaving the smell of rubber and gasoline in the air.

This was not just any race; this was the Geico 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway, arguably NASCAR's most competitive race.  Waiting for the drivers at the end was the Freedom Trophy and the opportunity to proceed to the eliminator round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Senior Airman Donald Googe Jr., 42nd Air Base Wing Legal Office paralegal, presented the Freedom Trophy to winner Brad Keselowski, Oct. 19, 2014.

The Freedom Trophy, a pentagon-shaped trophy that showcases the five branches of the military, is part of NASCAR's newest tradition of honoring the military. The winning driver is presented the Freedom Trophy by a member of the armed forces.

"It's a great honor to be able to present the trophy on behalf of the Air Force and the other military branches," said Googe.

Along with presenting the trophy, Googe also spoke at the pre-ceremony and greeted the drivers, and he and his wife and father received a behind-the-scenes looks at the race. He was especially excited when he learned his father, a NASCAR fan, could accompany him on the trip.

"My father definitely motivated me to do it," he said of presenting the trophy.  "When I heard I could take him with me, I thought it was awesome and it's been such a great experience for both of us."

The Airman and his family were given an opportunity most individuals will never get, but Googe's appearance also gave the Air Force an opportunity to connect with the community.

"I think it's a great community engagement," he said.  "Reaching out to people and encouraging them to join [the Air Force] and showing them what we do, it's very important from a recruiting stand point."

Googe said, "It was very exciting, it was a great race from start to finish, but the end was my favorite," describing the lead changes up to the very end of the race.

Googe's participation in the Geico 500 was a part of NASCAR and Armed Forces Foundation's "Troops to the Track" program, which is a way for NASCAR to give back to service members.