Racers Giving Back

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Andrew Wojteczko (centre) on the podium at Mosport after a World Challenge race. Photo by Michael Wong-MCW Photography

As a road race marshal, I have long been aware of the many charitable contributions made by all participants in motorsports. Children’s Wish and Terry Fox are two causes that immediately come to mind, and many times when watching a race on TV the commentators talk about various teams racing to raise money for different causes.

About five years ago, the need to raise funds for research became part of my personal journey. It all started with the personal diagnosis of a disease I had never even heard of, and my need to do something other than just be ill.

In 2007, father and son racing duo of Andy and Andrew Wojteczko stepped forward and started the ball rolling by putting huge Lupus Flare Foundation decals on both their Auto Analyser Racing Lexus IS300s then competing in the Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship and Pirelli World Challenge racing series. The Wojteczkos displayed the decals for every occasion they raced the two cars.

One of the Auto Analyser Racing sponsors, Signage Source, generously donated the artwork and printing for a set of smaller decals that were distributed all regional competitors and volunteers. Take a walk around Mosport International Raceway and you’ll see them in displayed many places: on race cars and street cars, on trailers, on the bins that the marshals take with them to the corners, and even on the Mosport LMP prototype show car. They are the visible proof of the generosity of the motorsports community; red decals with a white butterfly and the words “Someone I Know Has Lupus”.

Toronto Tirecraft GP For Lupus Research. Photo by Vic HendersonFollowing the Wojteczko’s lead, so much was donated by too many to mention to assist my fundraising efforts including lapping day entries, driver coaching, photo CDs, and racing prints to name just a few. Just under $2,000 was raised through these efforts.

In 2008, a young marshal, Bill Bryan decided that more was needed to raise both awareness of lupus, and funds for research. Bill had an idea and worked very hard towards making it a reality. With the assistance of regional road racer Nick Majors as a mentor, Bill was able to enlist Jeff Wenzel of Toronto Tirecraft to be the title sponsor of the Toronto Tirecraft GP for Lupus Research – a team go-kart endurance race.

The extremely successful inaugural race was held at Formula Kartways and has now become an ever growing annual event at outdoor tracks such as the Mosport International Karting Complex and Goodwood Kartways. Toronto Tirecraft has continued to sponsor this event that has now become the annual opener of the racing season for many regional drivers, karters, marshals and motorsport lovers.

Local American Le Mans Series driver Kyle Marcelli, who was unable to attend the 2011 event, very recently generously donated $2,500 to the Lupus Flare Foundation.

Kyle Marcelli in action during the 2011 Grand Prix of Mosport. Photo by Rick Kolaczynski.Through the efforts of the Ontario racing community, close to $30,000 has been raised and donated for research through the Lupus Flare Foundation to the Paediatric Lupus Clinic at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto which is headed by Dr. Earl Silverman. Dr. Silverman attended the 2011 Toronto Tirecraft GP for Lupus Research and told participants just how important the funds raised by the racing community have been to his research.

It gives me such pleasure to work so closely with so many individuals who share the same passion for racing as I do that are willing to give of their time and financial assistance to such worthy causes. While on the track, racers are fierce competitors, but off the track they will band together to help those in need wherever and whenever they can. If you would like more information or would like to make a donation to the Lupus Foundation, please visit www.lupusflarefoundation.ca.

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