CONCORD, N.C. (CNN/WJW) — NASCAR will honor the country’s fallen military veterans when the Coca-Cola 600 race is held without spectators Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
NASCAR Cup Series drivers and on-track vehicles will carry the name of a fallen military member in honor of Memorial Day. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, the country’s highest ranking military officer, will serve as grand marshal of the race, NASCAR said.
Two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion Tyler Reddick will be honoring one of Cleveland’s own during Sunday’s Race. The windshield of his number eight Chevrolet will bear the name Sgt. Norman L. Tollett of Elyria.
Sgt. Tollett was a 1994 graduate of Elyria Catholic High School. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, out of Fort Bragg, N.C. He died April 28, 2007 in Baghdad when his unit came in contact with enemy forces.
“We are going to be running a desert digital camo scheme if you will, to honor the Army that he (Sgt. Norman L. Tollett) was a part of,” Reddick told FOX 8’s P.J. Ziegler earlier this week.
**Learn more about Sgt. Tollett’s story in the video above**
The race will be broadcast on Fox 8 at 6 p.m. and is the second Xfinity Series event to be held since the season was suspended March 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the organization worked with state and local health officials to stage the race safely.
“NASCAR was very thoughtful in their plan for protecting employees and drivers and pit crews and people working on the cars from Covid-19,” Cooper said Friday. “Obviously, no spectators will be there. And that is because we know that gatherings together — when people gather together — that the risk of infection is so much higher.”
Last week, Chase Briscoe narrowly passed Kyle Busch during a battle in the closing laps to win the race at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
That race, also held without fans, honored health care workers. The names of health care workers battling the pandemic replaced driver’s names above their driver-side window, NASCAR said.
“As the coronavirus challenges our country in unprecedented ways, the frontline healthcare workers — the nurses, paramedics, emergency physicians and many others — continue to inspire us with their strength and bravery in caring for their fellow Americans,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR executive vice president. “These men and women are the real heroes and the NASCAR industry is incredibly proud to honor their selflessness and service.”
North Carolina health officials on Saturday reported more than 1,100 new positive COVID-19 cases, the highest one-day increase in the state so far. North Carolina entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan on Friday, which includes expanding restaurant capacity to 50% and reopening camps for children. Bars and gyms remain closed.