For one shining moment, in the middle of the biggest Indy Car race in Tennessee, a future Army Reserve officer and incoming Middle Tennessee State University freshman from Watertown was the star of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix biggest stage Friday.
Lancy Fripp, who graduated in May from Watertown High School and will enter MTSU this fall as an Aerospace Professional Pilot major, was recognized at the start of the Grand Prix’s Freedom Friday concert, the cumulation of a daylong series of events at the downtown Nashville racing event that recognized active-duty troops and reserve members, as well as veterans and other first responders.
President Sidney A. McPhee joined Army Reserve Ambassador Andrew Oppmann, an MTSU vice president, and Army Maj. Ben Sweeney from MTSU’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps detachment, to award a four-year Minuteman Scholarship to Tripp.
The scholarship provides full tuition and fees, as well as some room and board expenses, for qualified applicants in exchange for service as a commissioned officer in the Army Reserve upon graduation with an eight-year service obligation.
Tripp stood stoically and silently as Oppmann, who nominated the future ROTC cadet for the scholarship, told the Freedom Friday crowd about his accomplishments: Captain of Watertown’s football team, a member of the school’s state championship baseball team and a leader in Future Farmers of America.
“Lancy has excellent potential and is just what we are looking for to serve as an officer in the Army Reserve,” Oppmann said.
Immediately after the scholarship presentation, MTSU was surprised with a $25,000 donation to its Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center from the Harbaugh Foundation.
Foundation Director Joe Balla presented the check to McPhee, along with retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Huber, MTSU’s senior advisor for veterans and leadership initiatives, and Daniels Center Director Hilary Miller.
“We are honored to help support veterans and the programs spearheaded by Lt. Gen. Huber, whose leadership has been keenly focused on helping veterans get the educational support they need for the next chapter in their lives,” Balla said.
MTSU was front and center for all of Friday’s Grand Prix veterans outreach, including the foundation’s Patriots’ Outpost, located on the banks of the Cumberland River and next to the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, which provides free food and drink to veterans, active duty and reserve service members, as well as their families. The outpost will be open through the end of the Prix on Sunday.
The Harbaugh Foundation was created in 2014 to honor George and Betty Harbaugh, who loved San Diego and quietly supported the military their entire lives.
The Race - The track route in downtown Nashville is 2.17-miles long. One of the highlights of the race is the straight-away, which is the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge. Last year, the bridge over the river was a first for the IndyCar circuit in the U.S. and one of only a few courses in the world to cross over a river the size of the Cumberland.
Last year, the event reportedly generated over $20-million in revenue for Nashville and the 8-counties that surround the Metro area – which includes Rutherford County.