The title says it all: the sooner we get the best, up-to-date accurate facts out to people, the more lives we can save!
Such is the message behind the hood and rear, deck lid sponsorship on the #52 Chevy Camaro for this weekends NASCAR Xfinity race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The Lisa Colagrossi Foundation, a worldwide leader in raising awareness for brain aneurysms, sponsored the car driven by Iowa native, Joey Gase. The foundation asked for people effected by brain aneurysms to donate money to have either their name or photo of a loved one on the car during the race. The amount of exposure Joey and the car got on this national event was priceless.
Dave and I were asked as special guests to attend the race. And we cannot say enough about Joey and his father Bob. They were extremely generous with their time and hospitality. We certainly never demanded or asked of anything, but they offered so much from golf cart transport to ear plugs and water. Respect breeds respect.
The car was beautiful (if you can say that about a stock car) and seeing it in person was emotional. Watching Dori and Kim’s photo leave the garage area was almost like setting them free to go fly on the track. 32 individuals effected by brain aneurysms were on the car including notable figures such as Albert Haynesworth (NFL), Maryam Dabo (James Bond girl), Andre Jones (TJ Jones/NFL, Detroit Lions father), and Ashley Harris (wife of Tommie Harris/NFL, Chicago Bears) and a few not-so-notable figures such as myself, my sister Dori and Dave’s niece Kim.
Bob Gase and Todd Crawford were wonderful hosts and showed us around the track. We also had an opportunity to spend time with Joey in his hauler to cool off and get out of the sound and noise. He’s a wonderful young man and shouldn’t have had to lose his mother at such a young age. I had fun talking racing with him – he may not say the same. 🙂 Dave and I are big NASCAR fans and we have been following him in the Xfinity series and the few cup starts he has had.
This summer weekend race at New Hampshire is always a busy one in the garage area because they have three different series racing on Saturday and the Sprint Cup teams also had several practices, so there were opportunities to see a lot of on-track action. We enjoyed some of the Whelen Modified race and got to see the end of one of the cup practices. With the pit access we had, we were able to get close to some of the cars and drivers on pit road. Dave snapped a photo of Jack Rousch and saw Richard Childress walking by. We’ve been to three races at NHMS before, but this was a different experience for sure.
The pit and garage areas are regular hives of activities throughout the day and one needs to be aware of your surroundings. Many carts, cars, gas cans, and groups of media moving back and forth between the garages and trackside. I was run into on pit road during the modified race because I had ear plugs in and he couldn’t stop the large cart. He hit me gently and did apologize and we had a laugh.
The weekly circus that is NASCAR is amazing. The logistics and organization that goes into each team and just getting the event produced is impressive. And then add to that the wonderful staff at New Hampshire Motor Speedway who could not have been nicer. A stellar group of people and a lot of fun.
We were able to take many photos with Joey at the car before the Xfinity race as well as stand next to the car during opening ceremonies and the singing of the anthem. Something I’ve only seen on TV previously, or in the stands. This perspective was a lot of fun and It was emotional to be standing next to the car and see our loved ones there with us.
Then after the anthem was sung Joey’s dad led us over to the team’s pit area and informed us we’d be sitting on top of the pit box for the race! Now THAT was very, very unexpected. We weren’t really sure where we’d be to watch the race, but I hadn’t even thought about the actual pit box that is wheeled over from the hauler. It was a tight fit, but Todd, Dave and I climbed the narrow ladder to the three chairs for us. What an amazing view for a race! Dave and I geeked out a wee bit I think.
The sounds and smells of the cars racing by and coming in for pit stops is either something you love or hate. I happened to be one of those people that loves it. My sister Dori and I always used to go the demolition derbies at our local fairgrounds every year until I moved to Maine in 2001. She was also a NASCAR fan back in the day and I truly felt her with my on top of that pit box geeking out with Dave and I and enjoying the event immensely.
Joey didn’t qualify for the race very well, but he move up during the race and finished a respectable 25th place out of 30 cars. He is a good driver. He doesn’t ruffle any feathers on the track and hasn’t caused any fights on pit road or in the garage area (that I’m aware of!) and I think he has treated other drivers with respect. Again…respect breeds respect. I think the two media pieces produced by NBC Sports about Joey over the weekend were a reflection of the kind of young man he is and how he has taken something that is very painful and is helping others. It was a pleasure to meet Joey and his dad and we will continue to support him and cheer for him on a weekly basis.
It was a special, special day at the track and it was wonderful to get close to the action. As a double brain aneurysm survivor, I took great pride in having my name on the car and hoping the words “brain aneurysm” have now entered into the vocabulary of the NASCAR community in a bigger fashion. There are a few people who have even effected within the NASCAR family and we know they’re going to be helping TLCF help raise awareness and make the public more aware of the symptoms and their own personal stories.
Thank you to Todd Crawford and The Lisa Colagrossi Foundation for making this day possible. We look forward to future endeavors and helping to save lives.
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