Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Racing Toward a Cause: The Denny Hamlin Foundation Brings a Showdown to Richmond



Credit: John Harrelson, Getty Images Sport

Every weekend millions of fans tune into the NASCAR race to watch their favorite driver get suited up, strapped in and race bumper-to-bumper against some of the best drivers in the world at some of the fastest speeds. However, it’s the things that the drivers do off the track that truly make a difference.

Each year, some of NASCAR’s brightest stars show their commitment by holding events, making appearances and raising funds for the causes that are near and dear to their hearts. Just some of the ways they accomplish this are by helping to build hospitals and schools, holding road races, building homes for those in need and raising donations from supportive fans. Sometimes the drivers turn to their racing colleagues for help and do what they do best in order to show their support – race.

On Tuesday, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin and officials from Richmond International Raceway, Hamlin’s hometown track, announced they will be teaming up to run the fourth annual Short Track Showdown to benefit the Denny Hamlin Foundation on Thursday, April 28. Hamlin's foundation focuses on raising awareness and funding for the needs of those affected by cystic fibrosis, but also supports chronically ill children with other illnesses.

According to its website, the foundation generates funding by conducting events, as well as through contributions, grants and gifts of money and property. The foundation then partners with organizations with the purpose of researching treatment and providing care for individuals with cystic fibrosis and other chronic illnesses. Recipients of the Denny Hamlin Foundation include the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond, Va., Victory Junction Gang Camp and the NASCAR Foundation.

The announcement of the new location for the Short Track Showdown was a first-of-its-kind and was broadcast live on the RIR Facebook page - one of the first times a motorsports facility has delivered a major announcement live on the Internet. Hamlin and RIR President Doug Fritz delivered the surprise announcement to fans and encouraged them to submit questions for the pair to answer.

For the Short Track Showdown, Hamlin, a Chesterfield, Va., native, will be joined by several of his fellow NASCAR drivers and celebrities to compete against each other for a cause on the 3/4–mile track, alongside some of the area's best Late Model stock car drivers. The event not only allows Hamlin to raise money for his charity, but it is a great opportunity for fans to experience an action-packed weekend of racing, now with four events taking place.

“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to run our Short Track Showdown at Richmond International Raceway,” explained Hamlin. “The event has grown every year and we’ve been so fortunate to raise support through my foundation for some outstanding organizations. The competition will be intense with several Cup drivers signed on, as well as a few racing celebrities and of course several outstanding local short track drivers. It’s going to be a great night of racing with the opportunity to help a lot of people.”

On Thursday, fans can enjoy practice and qualifying prior to the Blue Ox 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series race, followed by the Short Track Showdown. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and other NASCAR personalities currently scheduled to run in the Short Track Showdown include Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip, Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Hermie Sadler and Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell.

The Short Track Showdown, which has become an annual event for the Denny Hamlin Foundation, is typically held at Southside Speedway in Midlothian, Va.; however, the decision to move the event to RIR was made after Southside Speedway announced they would be canceling all events for the 2011 season.

“This is a great partnership with our hometown driver, Denny Hamlin,” said Fritz,
the president of Richmond International Raceway. “We’re excited to be the new home of the Short Track Showdown and hope to help Denny grow this event into a premiere charity race.”

Tickets to the event are $25 (all general admission) and the Short Track Showdown as well as the Blue Ox 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series race. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult.

That same weekend, RIR will also be hosting the BUBBA Burger 250 NASCAR Nationwide series race on Friday, April 29. Tickets start at $30 in advance.

Fans can also enjoy watching their favorite NASCAR starts in the Crown Royal Presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday, April 30, with tickets starting at $45. Tickets for both events can be purchased at http://www.rir.com/ or by calling 866-455-RACE (7223).

In the past, the Denny Hamlin Foundation has raised funds by supporting events such as NASCAR Day and the Richmond Great Strides Walk.

Hamlin has also opened his own racing-themed car wash called Denny Hamlin’s Speed Wash as way to give back to the local economy and in 2009, donated $20,000 to pay for construction of the main gym in the Bon Air Therapy Center at the Children’s Hospital in Richmond, Va.

Those who are unable to attend the Short Track Showdown can support the Denny Hamlin Foundation by making a donation through their website at http://www.dennyhamlinfoundation.org/.

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