Fallen soldier honored at Indy 500

BURLINGTON, Vt. Memorial Day Weekend and auto racing seem to go hand-in-hand. Sunday afternoon, two Vermonters will be attending the Indianapolis 500.

While they will be special guests, the real guest of honor is a Vietnam Veteran who had an affinity for family and racing.

Rik Carlson is reading letters to his son, David. These letters are from Rik's brother-in-law, Loring M. Bailey. They called him Ring.

"To have the opportunity to talk about what happened to Ring is really, really important to me. It's a pain that I've had buried inside me for all of these 48 years." Rik said.

Ring was killed during the Vietnam War on March 15, 1970. Three years ago, his letters were published into a book. Ring's story along with several other veterans were put into a film, "My Father's Vietnam."

"I was so overwhelmingly grateful that someone wanted to tell this story," Rik said.

The Carlson's are no strangers to military service. David is a marine and served in Iraq. Currently, he's the coordinator of Veteran Services at UVM.

"It makes me really happy to be able to work with so many Veterans who are returning from active service and trying to transition into whatever their civilian career is going to be," David said.

The family also has deep roots in auto racing.

"Ring understood the fancy race cars, the Formula 1 cars," Rik said.

Four months before Ring's Death, Rik sent him a metal die cast motorcar, a deTomaso Mangusta.

Rik later received the car when Ring's personal effects were returned to the family.

"When my sister gave it to me, it was overwhelming. It was his connection to home and when he had a time to stop and take it out of his pocket and put it in his hand. He wrote about that," Rik said.

Ring's car was referenced in the film.

That film caught the attention of Indy 500 radio announcer, Jake Query. While looking for a different Vietnam documentary on a flight in December, Jake came across "My Father's Vietnam."

"I was moved about the part about Loring Bailey and the fact, you know, that he had this car and that car gave him a piece of home I guess," Jake said.

He was so compelled by the film, he called Rik invited and him and David to this year's Indianapolis 500. The two would be Jake's special guests.

"Wow. What an opportunity and I'm looking forward to spending this time with my father honoring my uncle," David said.

"Paying homage to those who haven given their lives, made the ultimate sacrifice is a big part of the event itself, so to be able to have someone come in and tie it all together, for me is very special," Jake said.

The car will be at Sunday's race. While it's a reminder why Rik Carlson and his son are there, Rik will use the car, like the letters and the film, to share Ring's story.

"It's exciting for us, but the whole reason for it being there, is to honor the memory of Loring M. Bailey, Jr," Rik said.