CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX NEWS) – NASCAR driver Jeffrey Earnhardt, the grandson of the legendary Dale Earnhardt, honored fallen U.S. service members in a special way during the Memorial Day weekend.
“I don’t think I have ever had to hold back tears so hard in my life,” Earnhardt told Fox News on Saturday.
He surprised Stephanie Manis, a Gold Star mom and her two children, George (Gino) and Kayden, with her husband’s name proudly inscribed on the driver’s side door.
“Overwhelmed. I definitely knew I was going to cry,” Manis told Fox News. “There’s just no words for it. I mean he was a huge NASCAR fan and it’s just a real honor for someone to honor him and other soldiers. But it was overwhelming. There’s really no words.”
Army Spc. George Manis served a tour in Iraq in 2006. In 2011, he took his own life.
“Being deployed I think he dealt with things that I didn’t understand and learning that after his death,” Manis said. “I mean things were really, really rough for him. I just don’t think he could handle all the pressure and it was just too much.”
Earnhardt said the tribute on his vehicle is the least he could do for what servicemembers do to protect the country.
“I could never pay enough respect,” Earnhardt told Fox News. “We owe them everything for what they have done. So, it’s very touching. It’s very eye-opening and it really hits home.”
Manis and Earnhardt weren’t the only ones choked up by the surprise. In addition, the names of 617 fallen men and women in uniform were inscribed on the hood of Earnhardt’s car.
Miranda Briggs saw her husband’s name, Army Spc. Garrett Briggs, on the vehicle.
“It was a great feeling! It made me very proud of him,” Briggs said.
Her husband not only loved NASCAR, but he also had a history with the company.
“My husband interned with NASCAR at Charlotte Speedway in 2009-2010 and worked at the Lowe's pit area,” Briggs said. “He went to the Charlotte NASCAR Institute and graduated with honors on the Dean's list!”
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