Taya Kyle was honored Sunday before the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, where she became the first woman to receive the racetrack’s annual Stonewall Jackson Award (awarded to “those individuals who demonstrate the highest standards of patriotism”).
Before the race, Taya spoke about her late husband, Chris Kyle’s love for NASCAR, and how it got started. Initially, she says, when she met Chris, he wasn’t a fan, claiming he “never got into it,” according to Fox Sports.
But after attending one of the organization’s military-appreciation events, Chris developed a new appreciation for the sport.
“He got to go behind the scenes and he saw the pit crew, and he thought they were such bad-asses because one of the guys broke his finger during the change and didn’t even stop and just kept going,” Kyle said. “Everything was so precise, and then he got to see the strategy behind the race and all that, and he was in love with NASCAR from then on. He was just like a ridiculous fan after that.”
And, she added, his admiration of top driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. came from meeting Earnhardt at the same event.
“Meeting Dale Jr. was really cool to him because there were some high-ranking officials who were in the tent, and he remembered Dale saying, ‘You know, what? They can wait. I’m talking to these guys; these are guys on the ground,’ ” Kyle said. “And he spent some time laughing with them and talking with them, and that really endeared him to Chris.”
The Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, which Taya founded after her husband’s death, aims to help “the marriages of first responders and veterans,” she said. “They both are facing things that we will never see.”