Racing for a cause

by Dave Yaeck
September 2, 2005

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This weekend marks the first of the final two races to qualify for the Chase for the Nextel Cup, but racing is not the only thing on the minds of drivers, crews, and others here in Fontana.

Many are touched by the tragic week that has transpired in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama due to hurricane Katrina, and some of the teams have already stepped up to join the relief effort.

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet and his wife Chandra were so touched by all the devastation that they announced today that they personally donated $48,000 to the American Red Cross to support the relief efforts.

Johnson’s sponsor Lowe’s home improvement has turned the Sony HD 500 into the “Racing for Relief” effort and will donate $480 for every lap of the scheduled 250 laps that Jimmie completes this weekend at California Speedway. If Jimmie wins the race, Lowe’s will donate an additional $4,800. In another show of support, Lowe’s is matching customer contributions up to $1 million.

“My wife Chandra and I have been watching some of the accounts of the devastation and we felt that we needed to help in some way,” said Johnson who has been involved with the American Red Cross for three years. “Our team has been able to raise more than $200,000 with Racing for Relief over the years and we felt it was the perfect way to help get the word out about how people can help those affected by Hurricane Katrina. I know many people in the racing community live in the area where the hurricane hit. This is our opportunity to offer our support.”

“Money raised through the Lowe’s Racing for Relief will help the American Red Cross provide for people’s basic needs – food, shelter, clothing and medical assistance – following Katrina and the thousands of other disasters that the Red Cross responds to each year,” said Kathleen Loehr, vice president of strategic fundraising at the American Red Cross. “We can, and will continue to be there for victims of disaster because of the financial support provided by companies like Lowe’s and people like Jimmie Johnson.”

On the home improvement sponsor front, Home Depot, sponsor of the #20 and current point’s leader, Tony Stewart, had already been preparing for this prior to Hurricane Katrina including a three-year, $6.6 million partnership designed to educate 1 million people on hurricane and disaster preparedness. Also various clinics throughout the southern and eastern states that are prone to these kind’s of disasters.

Since the Hurricane, Home Depot has mobilized over 1,000 Team Depot volunteers from seven states to aid in the rebuilding and relief efforts as well as a direct donation of $1.5 million to support long-term rebuilding efforts along with materials to aid in the relief effort.

Other relief efforts are coming in from Ameriquest who is sponsoring this weekends Busch race, the Ameriquest 300, who is setting up four donation centers around the speedway to accept financial donations the entire race weekend, Friday through Sunday night and all donations will go to the Hurricane Katrina Relief.

“We have to recognize that while the Ameriquest 300 is an exciting and spectacular event, a genuine human tragedy is unfolding along the Gulf Coast,” said Brian Woods, Ameriquest Executive. “The South is the birthplace of NASCAR. It’s appropriate that the Ameriquest 300 be an event that makes a significant contribution toward restoring the lives of thousands of people who love this sport.”

This weekend’s effort is a part of a more than five million commitment by Ameriquest and its affiliate companies towards Hurricane Katrina relief and rebuilding efforts.

Another driver and team that are showing their support is Robby Gordon and the #7 Harrah’s Employee recovery fund. He will be donating $7 for every completed lap for the remainder of the season to the fund to assist in the relief efforts.

NASCAR once again is showing what family does for family. NASCAR fans that are unable to attend this weekend’s race can show their support by donating online at www.ameriquest.com and www.redcross.org.

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