(AP Photo/John Raoux)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Dale Earnhardt Jr. traded in his T-shirt, jeans and sneakers for a head-to-toe pilot uniform, climbed up the portable stairs and slipped into the cockpit of the iconic Goodyear Blimp.
He kept his head down and turned away from a 65-year-old military veteran who thought he was onboard for a once-in-a-lifetime ride. Retired Marine Corps sergeant major Paul Siverson settled into his seat near Earnhardt - unbeknownst that his "first, second and third favorite NASCAR driver" was at the controls of the 246-foot helium-filled airship.
When Earnhardt turned and said hello, Siverson jumped in delight .