For the fifth year in a row, professional drivers and weekend racers gathered the day after the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with one goal, to raise money for All Children's Hospital, a pediatric hospital located in St. Petersburg, Florida that specializes in providing pediatric care for those with challenging medical problems.
On Sunday, March 20th, seven pro drivers joined a team of countless donors and volunteers on the Andersen RacePark track for a 1.5-hour endurance race, on go-karts. The event presents a rare opportunity for fans to team up with and meet some of their favorite professional drivers.
Will Reilly, event committee member, is an enthusiastic advocate of the Kart Race mission, stating, “After visiting All Children's Hospital a few times for the planning meetings and seeing where the money was going; I knew it was going to be worth it to be part of this event.”
Race Day: A Well-Oiled Machine
Donations came in all forms, from cash to entry fees. A silent auction of donations from the pro drivers and collectibles contributed by local dealerships and race teams were combined with a live auction. Items up for bid ranged from peculiar to heart-warming: race shoes worn by pro drivers in historic Petit Le Mans races, the skinny front tires from the famed DeltaWing racing car, and framed paintings done by patients of All Children's Hospital.
On the track, the competitive spirit was in full swing. Most of the teams started their pro drivers first while the karts were cool and running quickly. Then, in the blink of an eye, the driver changes began, in true endurance race fashion. The karts alternated amongst the teams as they cycled through the drivers. In turn, no advantages could be introduced. Each driver had to participate a fair amount, meaning amateur entrants and pros alike had to pull their own weight to secure a win.
A Thrilling Finish
The fifth year of racing brought seasoned drivers with experience and strategy to the race, along with plenty of memorable moments. There were some healthy jousts at the start. Patrick Long jumped in for a driver that couldn’t make it and Jordan Taylor (who started the race for his team) qualified first. He cycled back through the driver changes and helped his team keep first place for the win.
Andersen RacePark, Patrick Long, the volunteers, drivers and donors raised $60,000 to benefit All Children's Hospital.
The Future Ahead
“Aside from the fun and excitement from the event, it's really the kids that keep me coming back year after year,” said Reilly.
Reilly's right. Besides creating a fun, adrenaline-satisfying atmosphere, the event created a positive impact on the families whom will benefit from the funds raised.
We've been before and will return again. This event shows what these great drivers and people are truly capable of - making a lasting impact on their community.
To make your own contribution to the charity, visit their site.