NASCAR Star Takes to the (Simulated) Skies at Daytona Beach Campus

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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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and, and find expert videos at