Father’s Day surprise

BROOKLYN, MI - JUNE 14: Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Eckrich Ford, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2013 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, MI - JUNE 14:  Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Eckrich Ford, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2013 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, MI – JUNE 14: Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Eckrich Ford, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2013 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Joel Correll and son Jarrett were looking forward to a special trip to MIS on Saturday but had no idea what was in store.

After a VIP tour of the track, the duo was invited to the media center, where Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola and Richard Petty himself gave them a real surprise.

Each was given a No. 43 Eckrich Ford team shirt and 15-year-old Jarrett, who lives with cystic fibrosis, learned Almirola will carry his and his dad’s names on his car in Sunday’s Father’s Day Sprint Cup race.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been to a race,” Jarrett said. “I don’t think I’m going to forget this.”

Nor will his father, a Marine Corps veteran who traveled with his son from Findlay, Ohio.

“We pretty much expected to come to the track and get a little bit of special treatment,” he said, “but not this. This is unbelievable.”

The visit was arranged as part of Operation Inspiration, a campaign begun earlier this year by Eckrich and Operation Homefront, a national organization that assists needy veterans and their families. The partnership seeks to “help honor, thank and support the military families who inspire their fellow Americans,” Richard Petty Motorsports said in a statement.

The racing team also will be treating Jarrett and his parents to a trip to Victory Junction, an outdoors camp in Randleman, N.C., for children with terminal or chronic illnesses. It will be the teen’s fourth visit.

“It’s great,” Jarrett said. “The counselors always make sure we have fun there.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.