Carl Edwards took a detour Wednesday on his way to California where the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race Sunday.
Edwards, along with Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage, took part in a special training session with Sgt. Todd Plowman and members of Fort Worth Police Departments SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) team at the Fort Worth Police & Fire Training Center.
While Edwards watched, Gossage fired a 40mm Grenade Launcher, Benelli M4 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun and Colt M4 Commando 5.56mm carbine with suppressor.
Edwards then embarked on some lessons of his own. Those lessons included rappelling down the side of a six-story building and facing “live” situations in a hostile environment simulator and having to defuse the situation with armed force. He also appropriately arrived to the event in the Fort Worth SWAT team’s Bearcat tactics vehicle and later took it for a spin.
Rappelling Master Instructor Daniel McCreery briefed Edwards on the technique and the Roush-Fenway Racing driver chose to relish the moment by going to the top floor of the six-story building to begin his descent. Following Edwards, McCreery came down in SWAT-like fashion by descending headfirst down the side of the building.
“I was taking that first step with the rappelling, stepping out that window,” said Edwards, who was in Fort Worth to promote the April 14 Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. “That’s a lot like driving the car 205 miles per hour down in a corner for the first time of the weekend at Texas. You’re like, ‘Man, I hope this works out. I hope all the nuts and bolts are tight.’ … These guys make it look so easy and after doing it I can tell you it isn’t as easy as it looks, especially if you’re going down headfirst like that.”
Edwards then took part in a live tactical “scenario.” Edwards was briefed with the Fort Worth SWAT team regarding the situation that had arisen that was dubbed, “Operation Gossage.” SWAT intelligence had learned that Gossage was being held “hostage” by none other than defending Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart in a “NASCAR safe house.” The suspect was panicked about defending his Sprint Cup Series crown and was armed with Gossage in hand.
With Edwards observing the scene with Sgt. Plowman, members of the Fort Worth SWAT team swarmed the house firing a flash-bang grenade to rescue Gossage during the simulated hostage situation.
“I think as much as he pays us to win his races he is worth saving,” Edwards said laughing. “I can’t really imagine what it’s like living your whole life knowing that your phone can ring and you have to go to a situation that can be very, very difficult or impossible. That’s a different way of living your life and it’s one that when you need that help and you need their help, we are fortunate that they are there.”
Edwards’ performance got a passing grade from the SWAT team.
“Carl did an excellent job today,” Sgt. Plowman said. “With him being a NASCAR driver, you can tell he’s an adrenaline junkie and that’s our kind of guy, so he was right at home with us. He asked a lot of questions about our work and showed a lot of interest in what we do and we respect that. His enthusiasm throughout the entire event was awesome and we had a great time with him.”