Richard Petty signs autographs at a “Mission: Able” event at the Food City store in Gray for Paralyzed Veterans of America. Drivers and NASCAR legends like Petty lend their time to help several charitable causes during race week. (Sue Guinn Legg/Johnson C
While much has been written and said about the economic impact of the biannual NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway, the impact a single NASCAR race week at Bristol has on nonprofit organizations around the region is lesser-known.
Last August, the charitable events that surrounded NASCAR’s night races at BMS generated more than $100,000 for nonprofit children’s services in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia supported by the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.
Sprint Cup star Jeff Gordon presented Second Harvest and Feeding America food bank of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia more than $20,000 raised through his Race to End Hunger partnership with AARP and Food City stores. And NASCAR King Richard Petty teamed up with Food City and the Paralyzed Veterans of America to raise $75,000 for the “Mission: Able” program that assists veterans in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia who have been injured in combat.
This year, with more than 100,000 race fans converging for the night races at Bristol, the stars of NASCAR will once again be leveraging their popularity to the advantage of local and national charities, making appearances and inviting the fans to join them in a series of fun events lined up at the track and across the Tri-Cities.
The Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, which passed along more than $700,000 to youth service agencies in the region last year, will be working to top that number. The regional food banks will be meeting Gordon on the stage in Winner’s Circle for another Race to End Hunger check presentation . And Nationwide race series points leader Austin Dillon will be joining the COPD Foundation in its battle against the thirdleading cause of death in America, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Speedway Children’s Charities will kick off the week’s fundraising activities Monday with its 15th Annual Speedway Children’s Charities Golf Tournament at Tri Cities Golf Course in Blountville. Registration will open at 10 a.m., with lunch served at 11 and the tournament will begin with a shotgun start at noon. The individual entry fee is $150, or a $750 hole sponsorship with marketing opportunities comes with a free entry for a four-person team. To register or for information about tournament sponsorships, call Betsy Holleman at 989-6975.
The third annual Shooting Stars Tournament for Speedway Children’s Charities will be held Tuesday at Shooter’s Edge at 413 Century Court in Piney Flats. The tournament featuring the rising stars of NASCAR, and this year will include Neb Burton, son of Sprint Cup racer Ward Burton; Ty Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress; and Truck Series racer Brendon Gaughan. The entry fee is $100 and includes the use of a handgun, ammunition and 15 targets. To register, call 989-6975.
Track Laps for Kids, an opportunity for fans to bring their street cars up to speed on the high banks of Bristol, will be held Thursday from 8:30-10:30 a.m. The cost is $35 per vehicle. Registration may be completed online at bristol.speedwaycharities.org or by calling 989-6975.
Richard Petty’s Driving Experience ride-alongs will be held from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday. For $159, race fans age 14 and older can suit up and ride along with a Petty-certified driver for three race-speed laps round the world’s fastest half mile. To register early, call 800-237-3889 or visit www.drivepetty.com? .
Speedway Children’s Charities NASCAR Memorabilia Auction will be held Thursday evening in the Bruton Smith Building located just outside the track. Doors will open at 5 for a preview of the auction items and the live auction will start at 6. Items up for bid will include sheet metal torn from cars of some of the sport’s hottest drivers, autographed race team jackets, driver ride-alongs and more. Former Sprint Champion Dale Jarrett and other well-known NASCAR personalities will make appearances, and admission is free.
The Flex Seal Charity Cornhole Classic will be held Friday and Saturday at the track. Qualifying rounds will be held Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The top four teams from each qualifier will move on to championship rounds to start at 3 p.m. Saturday. The entry fee is $40 for a two-person team and includes a pair of tournament T-shirts. To preregister, visit bristol.speedwaycharities.org.
Superpass Saturday, a chance for race ticket holders to spend a couple of hours before Saturday night’s race touring the pits, meeting the race teams and taking in all the pre-race activities from the track infield, will start at 2 p.m. Saturday. The cost of a Superpass is $40 for BMS season ticket holders or $80 with any ticket for Saturday night race.
As the official ambassador of the COPD Foundation’s DRIVE4COPD campaign, Austin Dillon will host a COPD-screening event to begin at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Food City store at 1320 Euclid Ave., in Bristol, Va. And in an online auction being conducted at www.sccauctions.com ? to benefit the foundation, the Nationwide Series points leader is offering fans a chance to bid on a ridealong with him for three fast laps around the track in Thursday’s Richard Petty Driving Experience.
COPD screenings and educational materials about the progressive lung disease will be available Friday and Saturday in the corporate display area located between the track and the BMS dragway. And for fans who wish to join Dillon in the battle against COPD, DRIVE4COPD lapel pins and commemorative pinwheels featuring the campaign’s logo will be available for purchase in the gift shop in the Bruton Smith Building and at BMS souvenir trailers all around the track. To learn more about COPD or to take a COPD risk survey, visit www.? drive4copd.org? .