BRISTOL — The official 2012 Bristol Motor Speedway pace car, a black 5.0 Mustang GT with red leather interior, is up for grabs in this year’s Speedway Children’s Charities’ Sharky 500.
The car that paced the field for the 2012 NASCAR season at BMS was donated to SCC by area Ford dealers and will be awarded to the owner of the first rubber shark to cross the finish line in the 500-yard float race down Beaver Creek set for Oct. 13 at the foot of the world famous raceway.
Two weeks out from the race that last year raised $70,000 for nonprofit child service agencies in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, SCC Director Claudia Byrd on Tuesday invited area residents to get their sharks now. “Every dollar, every dime of every $10 shark will go to children,” Byrd said.
In addition to the Mustang valued at more than $32,000, prizes donated for race’s top ten finishers include $5,000 in furniture from Grand Home Furnishings and a four-day family vacation at the Wilderness of the Smokies indoor water park and resort in Pigeon Forge.
Now in its fifth year, Byrd said the shark race is the second most-successful benefit the Bristol Chapter of SCC conducts annually, running behind only the Speedway in Lights holiday attraction that runs from mid-November through early January.
“Everything is donated and that is why every bit of what we raise goes to help children,” Byrd said.
A total of 10,000 rubber sharks will be sold online at bristol.speedwaycharities.org, at the BMS ticket office, at Tri-Cities area Grand Home Furnishing locations and at the Oct. 13 expo up to about one hour before the race.
There is no limit on the number of sharks that may be purchased and winners do not have to be present to claim their prizes. In fact, Byrd said, about 75 percent of Sharky 500 winners are race fans from outside the region who begin purchasing their sharks in advance of the August NASCAR races at Bristol.
The free expo, which features an inflatable play land, games, giveaways and other fun attractions for children, will begin at 11 a.m. in the BMS Hospitality Area. The race will start at 1:30 p.m. at the Beaver Creek bridge.
In addition to local Ford dealers, Grand and Wilderness of the Smokies, sponsors of this year’s Sharky 500 include Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Food City, Alpha Natural Resouces and Tele-Optics.
Since its founding in 1996, the Bristol Chapter of SSC has awarded more than $5 million to nonprofit agencies and program serving children and teens throughout the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region, including $660,000 in grants awarded to 84 nonprofit organizations last year.
For more information about the benefit, call the speedway at 989-6900 or visit www.bristolmotorspeedway.com.