SSG Christopher Peche, BCO 122nd ASB was a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Richard Petty, whose number 43 car Wallace is driving now.

SSG Christopher Peche, BCO 122nd ASB was a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Richard Petty, whose number 43 car Wallace is driving now.

During Petty’s farewell tour, Peche missed school to stand in line at a Harris Teeter for his autograph on a Pepsi bottle.

Years later, Peche found himself standing in line at another grocery store--the South Post Commissary--waiting for an autograph on a Coke bottle.

Wallace is his driver now--but not just because he has Petty’s car. He decided on Wallace prior to the Daytona 500--in which Wallace earned 2nd place--when he watched an eight-episode docu-series on Facebook about him.

“He’s real down to earth, a goofball, loves his mom, loves his family...got all emotional at the post-race conference when he finished 2nd,” Peche said.

Peche had already made it through the line, but he stayed in the commissary, waiting for the line to go down so he could talk to Wallace again. When he made it through again, Wallace signed one of the event posts for him to take home to his family.

In addition to autographs and pictures, each Soldier received a message in a bottle as a part of a recently launched program by Coca Cola Consolidated.

“We collect handwritten notes of thanks and gratitude from our teammates, from our customers, our consumers, our partners, and we roll them up and we present them to our troops as a thank you in a little 2.50mm bottles,” said Christi McGee, Vice President of Community Advocacy for Coca Cola Consolidated. “We like to say our bottles may be small, but our gratitude is enormous.”

According to Wallace, so is Fort Bragg. This is his first time on Fort Bragg.

“It’s massive,” he said. “We landed then it felt like we were driving for like an hour to get over here. It’s a great place, a great facility.”

Fort Bragg isn’t the first base he’s visited. They do a handful of meet and greets at various bases, and it means a lot to him, he said.

“To be able to give back to the men and women that fight for our freedoms, there’s no better way than to take a couple hours out of the day and come out and take pictures, sign autographs,” Wallace said.

His next race will be the Coca Cola 600 on Sunday, May 27 at 6 p.m.

Wallace is a 24 year-old rookie from Mobile, Alabama and the first African American full-time Nascar driver since the 1970s.