CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - NASCAR may not be racing in front of people these days, but Sunday night, they'll be racing FOR them. Specifically, fallen soldiers, including Elyria's Lane Tollett, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, who was killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom in April of 2007.
600 Miles of Remembrance, NASCAR's annual tribute to fallen heroes at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Tyler Reddick will proudly have Sergeant Tollet's name on his windshield during the Coca-Cola 600.
“With the Coke 600, it’s always been about remembering the fallen,” Reddick told me during a Facetime interview on Friday. “Giving honor to those who served this country.”
"It's very nice," Tollet's mother Marti Sparks told me. "I wish him (Reddick) safety first ... winning would be nice ... crossing the finish line safely with a smile on his face is what I hope happens for Tyler Reddick."
Ironically, Sparks was scheduled to attend this year's race, long before she knew that her son Lane would be honored, and long before the quarantine changed everything.
But just as Lane is remembered at the football field where he once captained the Elyria Catholic Panthers, this is another way to honor his memory, and sacrifice.
"This is another way," Sparks says. "I've seen several bricks in Lane's memory, all over the country. Lane is also on the Veteran's Wall in Amherst, that was dedicated two years ago Veterans Day."
"It's a great weekend," Reddick says. "We get 600 miles of trying to give them a great finish, and 600 miles of storytelling of those who are on our cars."
Tollett, a good athlete, would be proud to be a part of this, his mother says.
“Oh, he’s looking down and he’s smiling right now,” says Sparks. “Probably blushing, too.”