Doing More Than Just Racing
By Kraig Doremus, Front Office Sports
Racing goes beyond the crashes, last lap passes for the win and celebrations in victory lane. Each weekend, there are driver appearances and events, many of which go unnoticed by the casual fan. During the recent race week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which featured an incredible five races in three days, one organization that put on several events was the New Hampshire Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities.
Nearly 70 volunteers came together at New Hampshire to raise more than $280,000.
Bruton Smith, Chairman of Speedway Motorsports Incorporated (SMI), founded Speedway Children's Charities in 1982 in memory of his young son Bruton Cameron Smith. The loss of his son helped the elder Smith truly become passionate about assisting children in need.
According to Smith, "Our sole concern at SCC is to help a child in need."
Since its beginning 35 years ago, Speedway Children's Charities has expanded to eight chapters across the country.
Its New Hampshire chapter held several events to raise money for its chapter during the race week. Events include:
- Laps For Charity: For $30, fans are given the choice of riding in the official NHMS Pace Car or driving their own vehicle around the 1.058-mile venue for three laps.
- Ricky Craven's "One for the Kids" Golf Tournament: Former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver and current ESPN NASCAR Analyst Ricky Craven teamed up with SCC and United Site Services to put on a one day golf tournament at the London Country Club with proceeds (and donations) going towards helping kids in need across New England.
- Champions Breakfast: Over 400 people attended a breakfast with seven-time MENCS champion Jimmie Johnson and 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion Daniel Suarez. The breakfast benefitted the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
- Ride of a Lifetime Auction: Fans bid for their chance to take a parade lap with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver of their choice prior to the start of the Overton's 301, which was won by Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin.
- Helicopter Rides: Fans could take a ride around New Hampshire Motor Speedway's property for $60.
- Track Walk: A common initiative at many tracks, the SCC New Hampshire Chapter gave fans the chance to walk the speedway for a donation. Two-time New Hampshire winner Joey Logano joined fans in attendance.
- Red Bucket Brigade: An event that began at New Hampshire continued at the Overton's 301 as the Red Bucket Brigade passed red buckets throughout the speedway's grandstands to raise money for SCC. The bucket pass is also used at other SMI tracks on the NASCAR circuit.
"It is an honor to be able to be involved with Speedway Children's Charities and work along side race fans, sponsors and volunteers to fulfill our mission of helping children in need across New England," said Cheryl LaPrade, Director of the New Hampshire SSC Chapter. "Because of everyone's incredible dedication to implementing events throughout the season, we are able to help more and more children each year."
The New Hampshire Chapter of SCC had incredible success during its event weekend, which is no surprise, considering the amount of funds that the SCC has raised since its inception.
According to the Speedway Children's Charities website, "In 2016, Speedway Children's Charities distributed nearly $3.1 million in grants to more than 450 different charitable organizations across the country, bringing the total funds distributed since 1982 to more than $49 million dollars, ensuring every child in need be given the tools to build a better, brighter and healthy future."
For those looking to get involved with SCC, it's easy. The organization is always seeking volunteers or donations. Sponsorship opportunities are also available with contact information on the website.
Kraig Doremus is the lead NASCAR reporter for Front Office Sports. He holds a B.S. in Sport Studies from Reinhardt University.
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