Riding along with Martin Truex Jr. in Sunday night’s Memorial Day Weekend Classic – the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway – will be a fallen hero from the Vietnam war – 1st Lt. Arlen Del Richardson, whose name will grace the windshield of Truex’s No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota.
The tribute is part of NASCAR’s 600 Miles of Remembrance which honors military service members who paid the ultimate price to defend freedom.
A native of Lawrence, Kan., Richardson served in the U.S. Army for seven years and was a medevac helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He was on a reconnaissance mission when he was killed on Feb. 17, 1970 in Quang Ngai Province.
Richardson, who served in the 123rd Aviation Battalion, was 27 at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife Sharon, five-month-old son Ryan, parents (Clara and Delbert) sisters (Clarice and Dee Dee) and a brother (Daryl).
Richardson’s wife Sharon, who has been remarried for 20 years to Ed Draper (Vice President at Furniture Row), will attend the Coca-Cola 600 along with her husband and sons Ryan and Mark.
“Though it was 48 years ago when we received the news about Arlen we continue to think about him and remember that day as if it were yesterday,” said Sharon Draper. “We are grateful to Barney Visser (owner Furniture Row Racing) and the race team for honoring Arlen with his name on the car. We’ll be in Charlotte cheering on Arlen and Martin and hopefully take part in a victory celebration.”
Truex, the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion, has enjoyed success in recent years in the Coca-Cola 600 with a victory in 2016, fifth in 2015 and third last year, says that he is honored and inspired about having a war hero on his race car.
“It will be an honor to have 1st Lt. Arlen Del Richardson riding with me in the Coca-Cola 600,” said Truex. “It is military members such as Arlen whose courage, dedication and selflessness allow us to enjoy our freedom. His name on the windshield of our No. 78 race car will definitely be an inspiration to me. I want nothing more than to drive our car with Arlen’s name on it to Victory Lane.”