The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. Sunday, FOX, PRN, Sirius XM Radio) will feature a special salute to fallen military service members on Lap 13, chosen because of the 13 folds in the American flag given to families of fallen service men and women.
Fans attending Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be asked to raise and hold replicas of folded American flags on Lap 13 in a show of honor. The event is also a fundraiser for Folds of Honor, a non-profit organization that helps to pay for the education of children and adults whose parents or spouses are killed or injured in military service.
Rachel Faulkner-Brown is among the family members who will take part in the salute on Sunday. She and her husband, U.S. Air Force Major David "Blair" Faulkner, have two children. Blair, who was an A-10 fighter pilot and later a fighter trainer, was killed on a training mission in 2008. Their son was 2 and their daughter was 5 months old at the time.
Faulkner was a race fan and liked to drive fast (he had a Porsche) so it's a natural fit for her to work with Folds of Honor at Atlanta Motor Speedway to bring awareness to the cause.
"Pilots are car nuts and watch nuts. When you go fast all the time, you want to go fast even when you're just driving around, it's such a drug," Faulkner-Brown recalls with a laugh. "We were definitely racing fans and loved to drive fast cars, too."
Her son David, who is now 10, and daughter Campbell, 8, have benefitted from Folds of Honor, and Faulkner wants to spread the message that while her family's story has sad parts, she has a joyful heart, and her kids can "live fully" knowing their education is secure.
"The 10th fold in the flag is for the fathers," Faulkner-Brown explains further about the significance of the name Folds of Honor. Each of the 13 folds in a ceremonial flag has a specific meaning. "The sons and daughters give so much to their country, too. It's not just the service member who gives."