On Sunday during the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR will salute those who have served our country in a very visible way. Each driver will bear the name of a fallen U.S.military member on his windshield header.
In the case of Dale Earnhardt Jr., this “600 Miles of Remembrance” tribute will also include a patriotic paint scheme for his No. 88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet.
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The name on Earnhardt’s car will be that of James McClamrock of Concord, who was 22 years old and was a private in the U.S. Army when he was shot and killed in Iraq in 2010.
McClamrock graduated from South Iredell High, where he lettered in soccer, football and tennis. He and his young wife had looked forward to starting a family in North Carolina. McClamrock once worked as a baggage handler and security screener at Charlotte’s airport, and watching soldiers go off to war had helped to inspire him to want to do the same.
Susan McClamrock, James’ mother, said in a phone interview that the family is very grateful that Earnhardt will help them tell PFC McClamrock’s story this week. The family will also be guests of Earnhardt and his sponsor, Nationwide Insurance, at Charlotte Motor Speedway at the race.
Said Susan McClamrock: “I don’t know Dale Earnhardt Jr. well, but I do know this is his last 600. And instead of having his own name on top of the car, he will have my son’s name on there…. That is so significant. For gold-star families like us (who have had a close family member die during a war), we never want the lives of our children to be forgotten. As long as we keep talking about them and sharing our memories of them, they never truly die.”
Said Earnhardt: “I think these families appreciate that their sons and daughters and relatives are remembered and acknowledged. ... Sunday is really their day. It gives fans an opportunity to know who these people were. We’re racing for them, to honor them. I’m honored to be a part of it.”