NASCAR, Indy honoring Marine vet Jeff Kyle at Brickyard
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Jeff Kyle raced up to 150 mph during a recent charity drive at Texas Motor Speedway, a welcome relief for the former Marine.
''Yeah, I wasn't getting shot at, so it was a good thing,'' he said.
The brother of famed ''American Sniper'' Chris Kyle will be honored this weekend at the NASCAR race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race at the Brickyard is officially named ''The Crown Presents the Jeff Kyle 400'' after Kyle was selected over a list of other nominees.
Chris Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were shot to death by former Marine Eddie Ray Routh in 2013 at a Texas gun range. Jeff Kyle serves as a board member of American Valor, the foundation that runs the memorial benefit to honor his brother, a Navy SEAL whose memoir was turned into an Oscar-nominated movie.
''It's a huge honor for me to able to continue on with something my brother started,'' Kyle said.
On Friday, Indianapolis will dye a downtown canal purple in Kyle's honor as well as for all past and present men and women of the U.S. military. Mayor Gregory Ballard will present Kyle with a proclamation declaring that July 24 will be ''Jeff Kyle Day'' in Indianapolis. The canal will remain purple for the remainder of race weekend.
The 37-year-old Kyle, of Lorena, Texas, is a Marine Corps sergeant who served from 2000-08 in the infantry and reserves. He received the Navy Achievement Medal, and he was deployed to Iraq twice, along with Africa and several other locations overseas.
Kyle, played by Keir O'Donnell in the movie adaptation of ''American Sniper,'' has never attended a NASCAR race.
''I've had a lot of people come up to me and tell me who I need to meet,'' he said. ''I've heard just great things about all of them, the NASCAR fans, what type of people they are. Just kind of like-minded with folks like myself. I want to meet as many of them as I can.''
He was nominated by John Wayne Walding, another veteran who was last year's namesake in Crown Royal's annual ''Your Hero Name Here'' program.
''I don't consider myself a hero,'' Jeff Kyle said. ''I did what I did. I had a job to do and I did it. All the guys that were there, they did the same thing. You ask any veteran, they'd probably say the same thing. They're not heroes. To me, the heroes are the ones that didn't come.''
Kyle was irked when presidential hopeful Donald Trump recently said of war prisoners after a question about GOP rival Sen. John McCain: ''I like people who weren't captured.''
''That kind of rubbed me a little raw,'' he said. ''I don't expect anything less from Trump. They're all idiots anyway. I think he would by far be a better president than what we have now. At least he's not a coward.''
Few sports embrace the military like NASCAR. It's one reason why Kyle can't wait to hit the Brickyard.
''I just want to take it all in and experience all of it,'' he said.