Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: Comcast Stepping Up Its Military Salute Program

No other professional sport salutes the military like NASCAR, with a number of specific programs aimed at honoring our nation’s soldiers. This season, Comcast NBCUniversal, which owns Xfinity, has become one of the sport’s top sponsors and supporters of NASCAR’s mission to support our armed forces.

This aspect has been a steady increase, beginning three and a half years ago when Comcast NBCUniversal hired Carol Eggert as a senior vice president of Military and Veteran Affairs. Eggert, now retired from the military after serving 32 years, leads the charge in finding military members and their families work when returning home.

“I work for both sides of our business, and it really is to build awareness toward the military community,” Eggert recently told Frontstretch. “Everything with recruiting and hiring — that sounds easy but it isn’t — and business development. How do we meet the needs of our military business customers? How do we meet the needs of our residential customers? It’s really all aspects of military engagement.”

She also has a military pedigree as Eggert enlisted straight out of high school at age 17, needing parental permission to join. She was originally drawn to it because of the G.I. Bill, which provided World War II veterans funds for college education, unemployment insurance and housing. Originally, she passed an audition to be part of the women’s Army band, though back then, it was segregated by gender.

While enlisted, Eggert earned numerous awards and commendations, recognizing her contributions to the country. She believes the Legion of Merit holds the most prestige because it shows “a significant amount of service to the military.” She’s also been awarded a Purple Heart and multiple awards of the Meritorious Service Medal.

“What’s interesting about awards is your whole life is on your chest, basically,” Eggert added. “You can tell where someone’s been, how long they’ve served, and the hash marks on the sleeves of the uniforms shows how many tours of duties you’ve done, deployed. You can see how long someone’s been out of the country in a combat zone. For enlisted individuals, on their other arm, you can see how many times they were relisted. The awards have different qualifications and they’re performance-based. Some are time-based.”

In her tenure with Comcast NBCUniversal, the primary goal has been to bring awareness to the military. The company brought Eggert in because of her accolades, also wanting to start a fresh initiative to bring that aforementioned awareness.

“It’s a brand-new program,” Eggert mentioned. “Comcast asked me to come and set the strategy. They’ve always been committed to the military community, but didn’t have a cohesive strategy. They needed to understand the military a little better.

“We are so fortunate that their commitment is as it is. We have a team of nine people on report to the president of Comcast NBCUniversal. I also report to NBCUniversal. Their commitment is not just words — they put the resources in place so we can do what we need to do, which is amazing.”

Between 2015 and 2017, Comcast hired more than 10,000 military community members into paid jobs within their organization. Eggert said the company is committed to hiring 11,000 more by the end of 2021. Comcast also strives to connect veterans to the internet, teaching them to better navigate the complexities of transitioning back to civilian life.

Eggert believes all companies want to reach out to the military community, not because they feel sorry for them, but because there’s a competition for that talent.

“Not everybody knows how to find it or how to best place it,” she added. “The unemployment rate for the military is a little bit lower than the general public. However, certain parts of the military, their unemployment is not lower, like 23-27-year-olds. Military spouses are underemployed, and I think there’s always been the challenge of matching to the right positions.

“It seems like a lot of employers think the best place is in security or maintenance — whatever job they had, they think that’s the only thing a military member can do. But because of their leadership training and comfort in many different cultures and teams, they really have the skills for many different positions.”

As far as the NASCAR side, last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway Comcast sponsored Jeffrey Earnhardt, who ran the No. 81 “Salute to Service” Toyota for Xtreme Concepts Racing. This week at Daytona International Speedway — July 4 Weekend — each car in the Xfinity Series will have a different military unit on its windshield to showcase the industry’s strong ties back to the armed services community.

But what might go unnoticed is that every week, Comcast invites local military members to the racetrack. At Chicagoland, Comcast hosted 40 sailors from the Great Lakes Naval Base. In total, more than 100 local service members (and their families) alone received grandstand tickets and access to other activities at the track.

“One way to do that [bring awareness to the military] is to make sure we support the military at all of the Xfinity Series races; bringing them in for special tours, using our military connection,” Eggert said. “NASCAR has a very extensive program to give back to the military. We do it both as part of the Xfinity Series [and] as part of an activation where we’re bringing a car, the driver, and giving away tickets at one of our Xfinity stores.”

Flashback to the Xfinity Takeover this May in downtown Philadelphia. During that NASCAR-focused event, a few members of the National Guard were sworn into service. The event was set up by Eggert and crew at Comcast in the midst of when 17 drivers were also making appearances around the city.

In the future, Eggert plans on continuing her close ties with the NASCAR side of Xfinity’s program, as there will be events going on throughout the second half of the season to honor the military.

“It’s actually every race, whether it be an activation at a store or a special event for any of the units in the area,” she said. “Last year at Dover [International Speedway], we did special activations. I would say at every race we do something to promote our relationship with the military community.”

Comcast NBCUniversal has stepped up its military awareness since Xfinity came on board as the series’ entitlement sponsor in 2015. Expect their support and strong bond with NASCAR’s military initiatives to stay strong in the coming years.

Xfinity Notes 

  • The series heads to Daytona International Speedway this weekend and there are 41 cars on the preliminary entry list. Earnhardt’s No. 81 withdrew from the event on Wednesday (July 3), leaving rumors swirling about XCI Racing’s future. Meanwhile, Kaulig Racing will attempt to run three cars for the first time in team history. AJ Allmendinger will make his first NASCAR start of the season in the No. 10, Justin Haley is piloting the full-time No. 11 car and Ross Chastain will drive the team’s No. 16 Chevrolet.
  • Despite believing the future was bright together for both he and driver Chad Finchum, Brian Keselowski left MBM Motorsports on Monday (July 1). The team was coming off a 24th-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway.
  • Last weekend at Chicagoland, Christopher Bell‘s No. 20 Toyota failed post-race inspection. According to Wayne Auton, managing director for the series, the No. 20 failed their height station, a post-race check which is mandated for all top-five finishers. It’s the first time this season a NASCAR Xfinity Series car was disqualified from an event.

About the author

Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.

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