Army dragster pays UMSL a visit leading up to weekend race

by | Sep 27, 2017

“The Sarge” made a stop at UMSL just prior to the 2017 AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals taking place in the St. Louis region.
"The Sarge" dragster on UMSL's campus

Gateway Battalion Army ROTC officer Lee Rodriguez (at right) and a fellow service member show off features of “The Sarge” dragster to campus passersby, including senior media studies major Travonte Harris (at left). (Photos by Evie Hemphill)

A special visitor nicknamed “The Sarge” made a stop at the University of Missouri–St. Louis this morning.

Army-sponsored dragster

The sheer size of “The Sarge,” which is capable of reaching well over 300 mph during a race, was impressive to students who stopped by the display.

From 8:30 a.m. to noon, the retired U.S. Army National Hot Rod Association dragster was on display in the parking lot just north of the Millennium Student Center. The vehicle’s presence was part of an effort to raise awareness for the Army-sponsored team set to compete in the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals beginning Friday in the St. Louis region.

Jim Craig, associate teaching professor and chair of the Department of Military and Veterans Studies at UMSL, said the university’s growth and identity as a veteran- and military-friendly community was the reason the Army decided to bring “The Sarge” to campus in advance of the race.

“UMSL is well known in the region as the institution of choice for military and veteran students,” Craig said. “The Army wanted to honor that as well as spread the word that there are plenty of STEM-related jobs available in our service. They also wanted to highlight the growth of Army ROTC opportunities at UMSL.”

The university commissioned five military officers last fiscal year, and there are 15 UMSL students in the ROTC program at present.

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