August 27, 2016 – Racing for HoPE

Last week’s race was a rainout and has been rescheduled for September 10. Tonight, I’m back behind the wheel of the #09 at Baer Field Motorsports Park.

Riding in the race car with me tonight is 3 year-old Emily Pruitt, daughter of James and Jessica Pruitt from San Marcos, Texas. I met Emily and her parents a few weeks ago in Dallas at the 2016 Family Conference on Holoprosencephaly.

I’m not sure if I’ve shared this on my blog, but I was elected to be the President of the Board of Directors of Families for HoPE in the spring. I’ve been serving on the board about 5 years now and served as Vice President for the past year. It is awesome to see how Families for HoPE is sharing and inspiring hope to families who are struggling to find hope, happiness, and meaning in their journey with HPE. It is my humble privilege to be able to use my racing career to help share the message of HoPE.

Emily’s dad recently shared his experience of attending the conference and how it has affected his family. Please take a moment to read James’ story…How Families for HoPE Has Saved My Family.

Miss Emily, it has been a wild and stormy week in my neck of the woods, but it’s blue skies today, so let’s go out there and storm the track tonight!
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August 13, 2016 – Racing for HoPE

Well, friends, it has been a while since I’ve updated the blog. Back in the spring, I had a racing crash that put me on the sidelines for most of the season with back issues.  During that time, I worked on my race car, helped with other race cars, and put a few other drivers behind the wheel of the #09.

In July, I spent a week in Dallas, Texas with Families for HoPE for the 2016 Family Conference on Holoprosencephaly. I have a lot to share with you about that amazing experience, but I will need to save that for another day…because is Race Day, and the doctor has given me the green light to make a run for a checkered flag.

Riding with me tonight is Kara Pettett, daughter of John and Karla Pettett from Valparaiso, Indiana. Kara turned Sweet 16 just a few weeks ago, and I figured that I should have a pretty princess in the car with me tonight to bring a sweet victory. This photo of Kara is from the HoPE Prom held during the conference last month.

Ready, Kara? I hope that tiara is certified for safety by Simpson because we are ready to race! Let’s roll!

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April 23, 2016 – Racing for HoPE

We are back at Baer Field Motorsports Park this week for another run on the 1/2 mile track. Last week, we returned home disappointed and with a busted radiator after we became entangled in the aftermath of two others fighting for on-track position.  The good news is that the car is ready to go for today’s race, and it’s fast.

 Racing along with me today is 4-1/2 year-old Charlie Maree Schifsky. Charlie is the daughter of Toby and Jo Schifsky from Saint Paul, Minnesota. I first met Charlie and her family in 2012 at the HPE conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. During one evening of the conference, I invited the families to join me at Charlotte Motor Speedway to watch a Legends race, and six month-old Charlie Maree, her parents and siblings (Roman, Lily and Simone) came out for a night at the track.  At the 2014 HPE conference in Dallas, I coordinated and supervised the tween and teen sibling activities so I spent a lot of time with Roman.  I’m looking forward to hanging out with the Schifsky family again this summer at the 2016 HPE conference!

As a very active family, one of the favorite pastimes of the Schifsky family is cycling. A few months ago, Charlie Maree was awarded a bike from Freedom Concepts, Inc. These are special bikes specifically adapted to each rider’s unique needs. After taking a test ride during therapy and seeing Charlie laugh with joy, there was no doubt that Charlie needed a bike of her own. Here’s a video of Charlie during her test ride.

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Okay, Charlie Maree, are you ready to ride? We have a fast race car today, and we are going to be aggressive. We want a win today, so let’s go out there and have some fun!

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April 16, 2016 – Racing for HoPE

This weekend takes us to Fort Wayne, Indiana to run on the 1/2 mile asphalt track at Baer Field Motorsports Park. Designated as “Fan Appreciation”, this season opener for Baer Field is a FREE event for fans!  No money, no problem!  The green flag drops at 4pm so you’ll make it back home before bedtime!  It’s a win-win.

imageRiding with me today is Leanna Brittain from Felton, Delaware. Leanna is the daughter of Fern and Belinda Brittain and the little sister to Joe Brittain. Many of the individuals I’ve introduced through the Racing for HoPE campaign have been children, but Leanna is 21 years old!  Her story begins like so many others with HPE…not expected to live to be six months old, yada, yada, yada.  But here she is 21 years later and still proving everyone wrong!

I haven’t had the opportunity to meet Leanna in person, but she and her family have been consistently offering me encouragement for several years via social media. I’ve learned over the years that Leanna is a Baltimore Ravens fan, she likes to help her mom cook in the kitchen, and she loves to laugh!  I don’t know anything about American Girl dolls, but apparently Leanna loves dressing up to attend the American Girl Fashion Show.

In the #09 today, I’ll have two cuties for inspiration–Leanna and her American Girl doll, Emma. Time to put on our helmets and let’s go racing!

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April 3, 2016 – Racing for HoPE

Our 2016 racing season kicks off today at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis with the 7th Annual Cabin Fever Championship promoted by Champion Racing Association powered by Jegs.  Today also kicks off our third year of the Racing for HoPE campaign with my sponsor, Families for HoPE, Inc. In an effort to raise awareness of holoprosencephaly (HPE), we choose a child with HPE to be my ride-along partner for each race of our season.

alexRiding with us today is 15 year-old Alex Pizer from North Clarendon, Vermont.  Alex is a very happy and enthusiastic young man who makes it very difficult for others not to smile in his presence.  Alex arrived in the world two months early with a wide array of health issues to overcome including HPE. His family was warned that he might never walk, talk or function normally, and a real possibility existed that he might not live to see his first birthday.  If you’ve been following the Racing for HoPE entries for a while now, you’re probably starting to see a theme . . . children with HPE have something that doctors cannot measure.  That something is will and determination.

Today, Alex is delayed but is still making gains each day.  Alex runs, walks, and talks with his speech improving daily through the dedication of his mom and therapists.  In addition to watching NASCAR, his mom Marlana tells me that he likes to watch Fast and Furious movies along with Disney/Pixar Cars and Need for Speed. Those are some of my favorites too.

Through a page on Facebook, his mom shares videos of Alex singing and dancing to music that he loves. As he dances, you can see that he’s full of energy and happiness radiates from him. Just like so many others who know him, Alex touches my heart and inspires me.

Alex, are you ready, Big Guy? I saw a video of a racing game you played recently. Do you remember that you were behind the wheel of a yellow Jeep? I could tell then that you are a man who likes to drive fast, so tighten your safety belts and let’s go out there and have some fun!

 

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Brackets For Good

Our first race of the 2016 season will be April 3 at Lucas Oil Raceway!

In the meantime, would you please support my sponsor, Families for HoPE, in the Brackets For Good 2016 tournament?

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October 24, 2015 – Racing for HoPE

At Lucas Oil Raceway last week, we had a Top 5 finish. Today is the last race of the season for the Families for HoPE #09 late model, and it’s at Anderson Speedway. It was at this track in 2008 in the Super Trucks series when I captured my first racing victory. It was a perfect night for the win as it was also the first-ever Families for HoPE awareness event at a race track. I guess you could say that it’s the night when “Racing for HoPE” was born.

After that first win here, I had so much hope for a long and successful racing career at Anderson Speedway, but racing here in my late model has been a challenge. In the 7 races I’ve started here, I have yet to finish any of them due to crashes or mechanical failures. But, when I see the kids with HPE and how they persevere, I know that I have to keep trying and never give up.

Riding with me tonight is 1 year-old Harvey Bridle.  He is the son of Mark and Sarah Bridle of Fort Worth, Texas. Harvey is an active little boy who likes to crawl and be on the move.  The HPE Family Conference returns to Dallas in 2016, and I’m looking forward to meeting Harvey and his family.

Let’s get ready to turn some fast laps, little dude! 

 

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October 18, 2015 – Racing for HoPE

It’s a sunny, yet chilly autumn day at Lucas Oil Raceway, and it has been a blast being able to race on this track several times this season. A huge thank you to the management at Lucas Oil Raceway and Champion Racing Association for forming the Lucas Oil Raceway Stock Car Series!

Riding in the #09 with me today is little Hannah Cavins. Hannah is the 2 year-old daughter of Brian and Shelly Cavins of Melbourne, Florida. Along with several other HPE dads, Brian was at Lucas Oil Raceway with us back in May for the HPE Dads Weekend.

Hannah has a sweet smile and disposition but can have a fiery little temper–especially when she’s being worked hard at physical therapy.

Rumor has it that Hannah hangs out at the beach with her family most Sunday’s. Today while she has her toes in the water and caboose in the sand, she’s going to be inspiring me with her fiery temper to hot foot and haul tail around this race track!

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September 27, 2015 – Racing for HoPE

Back home again…at Lucas Oil Raceway for the Fall Brawl with Champion Racing Association. It has been a few weeks since our last race at Baer Field Speedway where we came home with a 4th place finish.

Some exciting stuff happening this weekend as we are being joined by Matt Patton who produces a vlog hosted on YouTube called Matt’s Big Dream. Matt has secured a few go-pro cameras to the #09 so it should be interesting to see how the shots turn out. In addition to his weekly vlog, Matt is also producing a video for Families for HoPE about our Racing for HoPE campaign, so check back in for updates as those videos become available.

Families for HoPE will also be debuting its brand-new mascot today during the pre-race autograph session. If you follow my fan page on Facebook, you’ll be one of the first to see the newest addition to the Families for HoPE family.

Most importantly, in the car with me today is Katie Kumlien from Smyrna, Tennessee. The daughter of Joe and Joyce Kumlien, Katie officially became a teenager this week as she celebrated her 13th birthday. Happy birthday, Katie, from all of your friends at Josh Timmerman Racing!

Over the past few years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Katie, her parents and her older brother, Joey. Last Winter, Joyce and Katie spent a few days in Indianapolis visiting with some of the local HPE families, and I was invited to join them. When Katie heard I was on my way, she and Joyce made sure that Katie was wearing her Racing for HoPE t-shirt. Katie stole my heart when she started blushing after I sat down in an open chair next to her. Soon, her blushing turned into her flirting, and then I was the one who was blushing!

Katie, I have a surprise for you . . .  In yesterday’s qualification session, I qualified 8th fastest out of 24 cars, but with an inversion of 8, that moves me to the P1 position for the start of the race. What that means is that we will be lined up double-file with the #09 on the inside of the front row. After a few laps to get the tires warmed up, we will do a “wave lap” where the fans will stand and wave us by on the front stretch with one lap to go. Then, the pace car will pull off the track along the backstretch, and we will begin a steady increase of our speed going into turn 3, and we will come through turn 4 to lead the field to the green flag as all 24 race cars roar down the front stretch racing into turn 1.

Here’s where I need your help . . . there will be 7 cars behind me that all qualified faster than I did, so we need to be faster, smoother, and smarter than all of them. Our goal is to keep everyone behind us for 30 laps. If our HPE friends in heaven will hold everyone back and you don’t let anyone around on the right side, we can win this thing! (If we win, I will plan a trip to Nashville and let you wear my golden boxing gloves.)

I consider this the biggest race of my season, and I won’t be satisfied with anything less than a win. Hold on tight because you and I are Racing for HoPE in a very big way today!

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August 22, 2015 – Racing for HoPE

It was so nice to be back in the race car again, and we were able to bring home a 2nd place finish last weekend!

This weekend, we are back at Baer Field Speedway once again for a 30-lap Late Model feature, and it should be a night of good racing as the ARCA/CRA Super Series will be taking the 1/2 mile track for a 100-lap feature.  There won’t be any heat races tonight, but there will be an autograph session which is always a great way to interact with fans, hand out a few Racing for HoPE t-shirts and bring more awareness to Holoprosencephaly.

Riding along in the #09 tonight will be a cute little guy named Liam Rempel.  Liam is 2-1/2 years old and lives in Granbury, Texas with his parents, Joey and Kristy Rempel.

Liam and Liam's Ladies

Liam and Liam’s Ladies

You know for those of us who are able-bodied, it’s all too easy for us to look at a child with HPE and see his/her disability first or assume the child is weak or feeble.  I’ve met Liam, and trust me, there is nothing weak about him with his little dare-devil attitude.  And, single men take note because Liam most definitely has a way with the ladies!

12896_10103859270907062_6770641055244346533_nJust like I do with Racing for HoPE, Liam raises funds and awareness of HPE through “Liam’s Walk for HoPE”.  This has become an annual event for the Rempel family and has allowed hundreds of people in the Granbury community to learn more about HPE.

Hey, Liam!  Let’s get all strapped in for tonight’s race.  It’s you and me Racing for HoPE . . . checkers or wreckers!

   

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