Howard County-native Corey Summers was recognized for his military service at the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., last Monday.
Summers, who has worked for Comcast in Kokomo for 18 years, was nominated for the recognition by another Comcast employee and selected as one of three military members from Indiana and one of 37 nationally. The 1996 Western graduate said he was “taken aback” by the honor.
“It’s very, very humbling,” Summers said. “For me, (with) family being in the military, I’ve always been very aware of the sacrifices and the service that these men and women do … For me I always get taken aback because I always want to show gratitude and thanks to the men and women that went before me.”
Originally, after hearing about his selection to be represented at the race, Summers thought his name, along with the others’ names, would all be together, spread across a single car. To his surprise, all 37 cars had individual names across each windshield.
“I was just grateful to be even mentioned in the same paragraph as other military members and NASCAR and all that. I just thought it would have all our names all over the car, kind of like sponsorship deal, and then to find out that I had my own car was even more. And then to even see it was crazy … It just, it was quite the experience,” Summers said.
Summers’ name was across the windshield of driver A.J. Allmendinger’s No. 16 car. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the race was held without an audience in the stands. Therefore, Summers invited family members to his home while they watched the race on TV. In the opening ceremonies, he was able to get a snapshot of the car with his name on it as it was shown on the screen.
Summers said it was a different experience to watch the race without any people in attendance as the track is normally a full house on race days.
“It was kind of surreal to see. Usually it’s packed out. It’s just tradition. Even at the Indy 500 you got people everywhere. And then to see nobody, it kind of did set you back a little bit. Even for the drivers, I can’t even imagine how weird that would be to race a full race and not have a single soul in the stands,” Summers said.
Allmendinger started 27th in the race, moving up rapidly to around seventh. Although he didn’t wreck, he was nudged by another car ahead of him, moving him to the back of the pack. He made it back up to the eighth spot before getting a flat tire, moving him back a little again, and finally finishing at 10th.
Regardless of his driver’s placing, Summers said the overall experience was “priceless.” Although he had attended Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 races in the past, he didn’t consider himself a serious motor racing fanatic but said he still was fascinated by the honor of the event.
“Whether it be World War II, Vietnam, any service or any wartime situation that arose, I just think back to those people … working at Comcast (where) a lot are veterans or people maybe that are related to veterans … and you’re able to talk to them and just the experiences that they go through. It’s because of them that I’m able to do what I do. So not only is my name there on the windshield, but I take pride in knowing that I serve along with my brothers and sisters, past and present,” Summers said.
Summers began his military service in 2011 in the Air Force reserves. He began his assignment in Fort Wayne as a part of security forces in the international guard before his first deployment to Qatar from 2014 to 2015.
In 2017, he transferred to Grissom Air Reserve Base to be closer to home before his second deployment to Kuwait in 2019. Currently, he remains a reservist at Grissom.