Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes the controls of a blimp to give a veteran a memorable ride

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...

Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes the controls of a blimp to give a veteran a memorable ride

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.

With weather less than ideal in the Daytona Beach area Wednesday, the blimp was limited in flight and only got off the ground for a few minutes, reported nascar.com. But the day was all about Paul Siverson, a Vietnam and Gulf War veteran who served in the military for 30 years.

It was Siverson's dedication to NCServes, a charitable organization that provides comprehensive services to veterans, service members and their families, that made Siverson the perfect candidate for the surprise ride with NASCAR's most popular driver, NASCAR.com reported.

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