NASCAR's 2012 Sprint Cup champion admitted recently in his blog that he would have pursued a career in the military if racing had not worked out so well.
Keselowski, a 30-year-old Michigan native, comes from a family were many have served. His sister, his grandfathers, his uncle and several cousins all followed that career path.
"I was fascinated with the discipline, the mental strength that it takes to be a member of the military and the code of self-sacrifice and (honour) that goes with it," Keselowski wrote. "And I was also impressed by people who were really looking to make something of their lives and took that route."
Keselowski thinks racing and military communities have a lot in common because of the history of NASCAR.
"It's no coincidence that that the biggest racing weekend of the year is on Memorial Day," he says. "NASCAR was created in 1948, three years after World War II had ended. It was created by a lot of war veterans, and a lot of the garage is populated with former military because the lifestyle is so similar.
"You need to have a lot of discipline and be able to follow orders, or somebody could get hurt, potentially fatally. Because of that, there’s a real affinity between the racing community and the military world that doesn’t exist in any other sport, as far as I can tell."
|Keselowski enjoys working with veterans (Photo: bradracing.com)|
So last year, through his Checkered Flag Foundation, Keselowski started offering veterans the opportunity to ride with him on the track.
"On days after races, we started hosting injured veterans, taking them on rides in a specially built car with its own safety setup," Keselowski explains.
"I decided that if I was going to it, I was going to do it full out, and that meant having a car that went full speed -- 180, 190, 200 mph. I didn’t want to take an injured vet, who had made all the sacrifices he made, to a racetrack and have him experience 150 mph.
"I wanted to take him out and have him say, 'Hey, this is the real deal here.'"
As a reward, Keselowski hopes his efforts will help racing and military people stay close: "I can play some small part in perpetuating (the affinity), I would be very proud," he concludes.