NASCAR star Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 for Hendrick Motorsports, stopped by the Embry–Riddle Daytona Beach campus Wednesday morning to try his hand at flying the Advanced Flight Simulation Center’s level D CRJ 200. Accompanied by a gaggle of reporters and videographers, he joined Capt. Tom Peterson, Canadair Regional Jet Program Manager in the cockpit of the full motion flight simulator for a quick flying lesson.
Elliott knows what he’s doing when he sits in the pilot’s seat. In 2015, he earned his private pilot license and now holds multi-engine instrument and rotorcraft ratings.
After Elliott came out of the CRJ 200 with a big smile on his face, he headed over to the ERAU Motorsports shop in the mechanical engineering building to check out the ERAU motorsports team’s Formula SAE racecar that recently competed in the Society of Automotive Engineers’ 120-team Formula competition at Michigan International Speedway. Elliott spoke with team members, jumped in the driver’s seat and cranked up the engine.
Elliott flies a Cessna Conquest II turboprop to most of the races in the southeast U.S. His love of flying came from his dad, NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, who is still an avid flyer. In February 2016, Elliott got to fly with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds during a break from Daytona 500 media day.
Elliott said in an interview with motorsports writer Jeff Gluck that he’s found being a pilot is good brain exercise for racing, that it keeps his mind focused on something that’s not racing, but takes the same type of mental concentration.
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