Brendan Gaughan’s thrilling NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) recent victory in the Gardner Denver 200 road race was listed as one of NASCAR’s Top 5 highlights for the week of June 21st. This was Mr. Gaughan’s first NNS victory, an especially challenging checkered flag that was captured in wet conditions.
With 15 races down and 18 tracks ahead of him, including an Aug. 22, appearance at Bristol Motor Speedway, “The Last Great Colosseum,” Mr. Gaughan is looking forward to every opportunity to unwind between tracks.
So what does a NASCAR driver do to relax? As a certified SCUBA divemaster, Mr. Gaughan enjoys spending time underwater. So he’s taking Tuesday, July 8 off as a day to relax between races - by diving with the Tennessee Aquarium’s sharks in downtown Chattanooga. Mr. Gaughan will be the featured guest diver during the 11 a.m. Secret Reef dive show. “My life is very aggressive and fast paced. One of the great things about SCUBA diving is that it gives me the opportunity to slow down and just live in that moment,” Mr. Gaughan said. “It is such a peaceful, safe sport that I enjoy sharing with my family. I can’t wait to share this unique experience at the Tennessee Aquarium with everyone.”
While most people might fear sharks and worry about their “killer attitude,” Mr. Gaughan knows the truth about sharks. The Aquarium’s toothy Sand Tiger and Sandbar Sharks might be somewhat friendlier than the other drivers he faces on the Nationwide Series.
“I feel much safer next to a Sand Tiger Shark than I do next to some of my competitors,” Mr. Gaughan said. “On the track I have to get to know my competitors to find out who the Great Whites are and who the Nurse Sharks are. When I’m in the ocean I know that most sharks are peaceful creatures. Unfortunately, many television programs haven’t done these animals any favors. They frequently make them out to be ferocious, man-eating animals, but they aren’t.”
Following his appearance in the Secret Reef, Mr. Gaughan will spend some time in the Ocean Journey building signing autographs and greeting his fans. Hopefully many will also become shark fans after meeting the only NASCAR driver / SCUBA diver to plunge into the Tennessee Aquarium’s shark tank. Mr. Gaughan would like to see more people who are eager to learn more about these important apex predators. “It’s sad and devastating what humans have done to them,” Mr. Gaughan said. “Every year a substantial number of sharks are killed. I’d like to think that when people come to places like the Tennessee Aquarium, to see and appreciate these amazing creatures, they get excited about helping them. Hopefully, increased awareness leads to additional conservation measures to save sharks before it’s too late.”
As part of Bristol Motor Speedway Day, guests will get a special Aquarium admission discount when they mention Bristol at the Ticketing Center. Visitors will also be able to take pictures with a NASCAR Nationwide Series show car and the Bristol Motor Speedway pace car which will be displayed on the Tennessee Aquarium Plaza.
Mr. Gaughan and other NASCAR drivers again set their sights toward enduring the high-banks of Bristol on Aug 20, 22-23. IRWIN Tools Night Race tickets start at just $75 and weekend-ticket packages for the World’s Fastest Half-Mile are available for as low as $99 by calling 423-BRISTOL or by visiting www.BristolTix.com .
Aquarium fans can discover more about sharks during SharkFest on Friday, Aug. 1.