Pure Michigan 400 honorary starter, grand marshal raise awareness for autism, veterans

Posted On Thursday, 13 August 2015 20:00 Written by
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Pure Michigan announced the results of the Pure Michigan 400 Honorary Starter Contest, naming Kyle Brow of Vassar, Mich. as the 2015 Pure Michigan 400 Honorary Starter. Michael Harris, Executive Director of Paralyzed Veterans of America Michigan Chapter, has been named 2015 Pure Michigan 400 Grand Marshal.

Brow, a 20-year-old with autism, developed a passion for NASCAR and racing at a young age. Over the years, Brow’s enthusiasm for the sport has only grown; he keeps meticulous records of each race and aspires to be a NASCAR announcer one day. His mother, Laura Oliver, nominated him to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience, saying “you cannot have a conversation with Kyle that does not turn into a conversation about NASCAR.”

“Autism influences people of all abilities and all backgrounds, and Kyle Brow is an inspiring example of someone with autism who has tapped into his passion to enrich the world of those around him,” said Lt. Governor Brian Calley. “Kyle’s love for NASCAR and ability to turn what could be perceived as a weakness into his strength make him a terrific choice to represent Pure Michigan in the starter’s booth on race day.”

In addition to waving the green flag at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, Brow will attend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers’ meeting and driver introductions.

Grand Marshal Michael Harris will join Brow at the drivers’ meeting and introductions before he gives the signal to start the engines. Harris, of Westland, Mich., served in the United States Marine Corp from 1975 to 1979 and was honorably discharged as a Corporal. Shortly after his injury, Harris joined the local Paralyzed Veterans of America Michigan Chapter leading the Government Relations team until 2007 when he stepped into the Executive Director role to ensure Paralyzed Veterans of America members live full and rewarding lives with access to veterans services, quality healthcare and civil rights. The Paralyzed Veterans' Michigan Chapter serves more than 475 members, their families and caregivers throughout the state of Michigan.

“Many thanks to Pure Michigan and Michigan International Speedway for giving us the opportunity to share our mission with so many this coming weekend during the Pure Michigan 400 race,” Harris said. “Now more than ever, our role in this community is critical in providing quality healthcare, benefits and jobs for America's heroes. We can't do it alone, and we're grateful for all the support here this weekend as we share our story.”

Michigan International Speedway has worked with Paralyzed Veterans of America on a number of initiatives. The track routinely honors its veterans at the races with special ticket packages and celebrates the Army’s birthday. In June, the United States Army Chorus sang the national anthem for the Quicken Loans 400. 

“It’s special to work with an organization like Pure Michigan who holds the same philosophy as the track in providing lifetime memories,” speedway President Roger Curtis said. “We’re excited to have Kyle wave the green flag and Michael give the command to drivers to start their engines.”

“We are pleased to be able to shine a light on both autism awareness and our veterans during this year’s Pure Michigan 400,” said Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “Kyle Brow and Michael Harris – and all the folks they will be representing on race day – are true heroes and embody the best of what Pure Michigan stands for.”

Pure Michigan is a brand representing business, talent and tourism initiatives across Michigan. These efforts are driven by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which serves as the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business growth, jobs and opportunity with a focus on helping grow Michigan’s economy. 

For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit: michiganbusiness.org. For Michigan travel news, updates and information, visit michigan.org.

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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