By Master Sgt. Chance Babin | Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs
DEADWOOD, S.D. (AFNS) — The Air Force and Total Force Recruiting were front and center in the historic Old West town of Deadwood at the U.S. Air Force Snocross National races, Jan. 24-25.
For Air Force Total Force Recruiting, it’s not just about getting enough people to join the Air Force, it’s about getting a diverse mix of people representative of the nation to join. When it comes to recruiting, the snow-belt states on the northern tier, the Air Force has a long running sponsorship with Scheuring Speed Sports and the International Series of Champions.
Snocross racing features high-performance snowmobiles racing through various tracks. Racing events take place from as far east as New York, west to Colorado and north to the Dakotas. The sport draws large crowds, including lots of young, mechanically inclined adventure sport enthusiasts – a key demographic for Total Force Recruiting.
“When you talk about diversity, there’s racial diversity, cultural diversity and geographic diversity. For the Air Force to try and get after some of that geographic diversity is very hard when you get to the northern-tier states,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Durham, Air Force Recruiting Service deputy commander. “It can be a challenge to consolidate populations enough to even have an effective recruiting message or mission. Snocross is a great event for that. I think it brings people together and is a great opportunity to get some of that geographic diversity and tell the Air Force story.”
For Scheuring Speed Sports team owner, Steve Scheuring, his relationship with the Air Force dates back more than two decades.
“It started out back in the late 90s with a local recruiter in Minneapolis who came to a race to check it out and saw the excitement, adrenaline and high-flying action at the track and saw a lot of parallels with what the Air Force does,” he said. “So, we worked with the local recruiter and created a little bit of a partnership and did a bunch of branding on our snowmobiles and it ended up being a great deal. It’s been a partnership made in heaven since then.”
Many recruiters and commanding officers have worked with Scheuring and his team over the years.
“I think what makes this a great partnership is the people,” Schering said. “Every single person I’ve met in the Air Force has been fantastic. They partnered with me and we have worked very hard every single day to do the best for the Air Force. The key to our success is the people. I’ve probably worked with a dozen generals over the years. It’s been a great ride.”
For the Air Force recruiters, the Scheuring team helps build bridges into a region of the United States that can be difficult to recruit.
“We push the mechanical side of things to the individuals when we go out to the school visits,” said Tech. Sgt. Aaron Mormon, 343rd Recruiting Squadron lead marketer. “Steve does a great job of tying that back into how the mechanics that his crew does relates back to the Air Force as well. It’s a great opportunity to showcase that.”
Prior to each national race, the Scheuring team goes to local high schools or secondary schools and puts on a presentation with the local recruiters. They talk about the technology they use to win races.
“We talk about making good choices in life and about having good attitudes,” Scheuring said. “We bring out drivers, mechanics and myself for questions and answers. Then, we give out a scholarship after each visit. It’s a thank you for letting us come to their school. It usually goes to a deserving student who works really hard but seems to get missed out on scholarships and stuff. It’s not a lot of money, but to them it’s a huge deal.”
For the recruiters, the Scheuring team is a valuable asset because team members can relate with the kids of the region who are familiar with Snocross.
“They grow up doing this, riding snowmobiles and that kind of stuff,” Mormon said. “When they ask questions to Steve about the actual mechanics of the sleds, that’s when you see the value of the partnership. He can sit down and say the compression ratio of the sled is this and this and he ties it back to the compression ratios on jet aircraft engines. For us to be able to showcase this is a huge opportunity we wouldn’t otherwise have if we weren’t a partner with his team.”
“The school visits are fun,” said Lincoln Lemieux, one of Scheurling’s race drivers. “Not everybody is interested in what we do, but there are always a few kids who are super interested in the Air Force or the racing part of it. It’s really cool because we can tie the two together with the technology and the hard work and dedication we put into it.”
Lemieux said being part of the Air Force team has been a special ride.
“Wearing the Air Force logo means so much to me,” he said. “I’ve been on this team for seven years so I don’t know anything else. Just to race for the Air Force and all the opportunities they give us. All the men and women sacrifice their lives just so we can live free and have the life we want just means so much.”
Durham said the Scheuring team and the Air Force are a good fit because both stress preparation, the use of technology, and physical and mental training.
“I think Steve and the Scheuring racing team are out to win,” he said. “They want to be the best and they take it seriously. We share a belief in fitness, preparation and hard work and that all shines through here. It takes a bit of grit to stand the cold, and a little bit of grit goes a long way.”