"The Race Day Foundation rocks! We recently had an awesome event at Sonoma Raceway, arranged and hosted by The Race Day Foundation. It was great to disconnect from life, and to spend time with race drivers, organizers, and fellow race fans for the day. Jill Beck from The Race Day Foundation clearly understands not only the racing world, but how to support those living with medical conditions, and the families who love them. Thank you Jill, and thank you Race Day Foundation, for doing what you do." - 6/8/2017 NoCalDSM
"My son has NF which has caused tumors in his brain leaving him blind. Being blind, there are many things others think he can’t or shouldn’t do. Going to “see” the Long Beach Gran Prix is probably not something that many would consider a blind kid would enjoy. The Race Day Foundation made sure that Ryder truly experienced a race day. He was able to interact with all kinds of drivers, team owners, and even the cars! The Race Day Foundation really went out of their way to find an interactive way for Ryder to experience a race day. They even had a driver walk Ryder around a race car feeling the contours of the body and the tires as the car was about to go on to the track! Ryder had an amazing time going to a race and is definitely a new fan of racing. We can’t thank The Race Day Foundation enough for giving Ryder this once in a lifetime experience." - 6/1/2017 BrySav
Daytona Beach, FL (January 27, 2017)- “Hang on a sec. I’ll be right back!” shouted James Vance as he did a quick jog away from me.
Already suited up in his MINI JCW fireproof uniform for that afternoon’s race at Daytona International Speedway, he navigated his way through a crowd of people with quick precision.
Vance’s car was staged in the garage area with the rest of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge field. Crew members were moving equipment onto pit road while fans milled about in search of driver autographs and their perfect selfie angle.
Vance danced in between the sea of wandering feet with his target in sight. He quickly ran up, squatted, and then embraced a little girl. The pair happily hugged each other in a reunion-style squeeze. The young lady’s family was equally happy to see Vance.
“She’s my little fan,” said Vance.
His young friend is nine-year-old Grace Beck. She is an ambassador for Race Day Foundation which brings children and their families out to various racetracks and series. The Foundation operates in a similar manner as Make-A-Wish except that Race Day does exactly as the name implies and organizes speedway events.
Grace’s mother Jill leads Race Day Foundation and said that her daughter is fortunately healthy and is able to work as a Foundation advocate.
Vance returned to where we were standing to speak about the race that was less than an hour away from the green flag. His excitement from seeing Grace carried over in his voice to address the BMW Endurance Challenge.
“I feel very, very lucky to be paired with someone who has a good head on his shoulders and knows what patience is in racing,” said Vance in regards to his co-driver Mike LaMarra. “He knows what to do and knows what needs to be done for us to win a championship.”
LaMarra was slated to begin the race’s first stint with Vance set to finish the race for the checkered flag.
“The amateur starts and the pro finishes,” said Vance. “For the last year-and-a half… two years, I’ve really been making a push to try and steer myself from amateur to pro driver. In the last year-and-a-half, I’ve made that jump by finishing races and by racing against the guys that I’ve looked up to my whole career.
“When the amateur is in the car he’s usually about a second-and-a-half off of the pace of the pro. When the pro gets in, we’re able to race against the other guys that are relative speed to other drivers around us. It’s about managing the other drivers around you with the tools that you have available to you,” Vance said. “We’re all race car drivers and we want to go as fast as we can all of the time.”
Vance humbly complimented LaMarra as having “no ego. He’s easy going. He knows what’s best for the team. He knows what needs to be done. A guy like that makes my life really easy. He’s trying to do what’s best for us, and what’s best for us is to get the car to the end of his stint with four corners on it and me to get in and be able to do my job by finishing strong.”
Vance and LaMarra qualified ninth in the Street Tuner class and finished the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge in 12th.
Trent Hindman and Cameron Cassels won the race sharing driving duties in their Porsche Cayman GT4. They were thrilled in Victory Lane and then in the media center, but the happiness on Vance’s face may still have been even a bit brighter than the winners when he finished his hug with Grace.
“A smile on the child’s face is what it is all about,” said Jill Beck about Race Day Foundation. “Then I know I’ve done my job.”
Race Day Foundation works hard to put smiles on the faces of children and their families at race tracks. Amateur and professional drivers team up in the Continental Tire SportsCar Series and look to share smiles with their pit crew in Winner’s Circle.
James Vance worked hard with a goal to raise a trophy at the end of the BMW Challenge but fell short. From the genuine feeling that was shared between he and Grace earlier in the afternoon, I don’t know if the race win would have made his face beam any bright than his “little fan” did.
Story and photo by Patrick Reynolds. Patrick Reynolds is a former professional NASCAR mechanic who hosts Speedway Report Mondays 7:30 pm ET/ 4:30 pm PT on http://speedwayreport.com/ . Follow on Twitter @SpeedwayPat.
New foundation aims to harness the power of racing and deliver smiles to children facing life-changing medical challenges
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – The Board of Directors of The Race Day Foundation are pleased to announce the launch of a new charitable organization.
The mission of the The Race Day Foundation is to provide race day experiences to children and families living with life-changing illness. With events scheduled across North America throughout the year, the Foundation will provide deserving families a unique behind-the-scenes experience at the race track, offering an uplifting, hope-filled “day away” for young patients, parents and siblings alike.
“I know I speak for all of our Board members when I say how excited we are to publicly launch this new foundation,” remarked veteran FOX Sports and NBCSN broadcaster and Race Day Board member Brian Till. “Every member of this Board has witnessed first-hand the positive effect these unique experiences have on the kids – we’ve seen the smiles and felt the joy. We believe any child living with a life-changing illness should have the opportunity to experience the hope and inspiration that a Race Day can provide.”
The new organization will be led by Jill Beck, who will serve as the Foundation’s Executive Director. Ms. Beck brings with her extensive experience in the motorsports and nonprofit sectors, most recently having served as Program Director for the New York City-based Children’s Tumor Foundation.
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and supportive group of people as the Race Day Board, and to launch this exciting for-good foundation,” noted Ms. Beck. “I’m very much looking forward to welcoming families at our first official event in January 2017.”
The Race Day Foundation Board of Directors also includes Tom Malone, Executive Associate Dean, Tufts University School of Medicine and retired physician, author and motivational speaker, Dr. Hal Hanson (father of renowned philanthropic artist Jeffrey Owen Hanson).
The Foundation’s Advisory Board is comprised of a diverse group of dedicated individuals from motorsports, medicine, media, and more. Notable members include: Justin Bell, Roy Block, Leigh Diffey, Nick Firestone, Andy Jordan, Patrick Long, Matthew Murphy, Rafael Navarro III, Denelle Pritchard, and Dr. Ron Yarab.
During its first year, Race Day will host guests at both Pirelli World Challenge and IMSA sports car races, with over twenty events scheduled for the 2017 season. Venues will include: Daytona International Speedway, Sebring International Speedway, Long Beach, St. Petersburg, Virginia International Raceway, Circuit of The Americas, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Lime Rock Park, Detroit, Road America, Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Utah Motorsports Campus, Sonoma Raceway, Road Atlanta and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Registration for all events can be completed via the Race Day website at http://racedayfoundation.org, where donations are accepted as well. “Philanthropic investors cover our operating costs,” noted Mr. Malone, “which means 100% of any money donated will help to fund Race Day experiences for deserving children in all communities.”
In order to reach as many deserving families as possible, Race Day will outreach to the community through a collection of partner non-profits, ensuring that any organization serving medically-challenged children will have the ability to offer their constituents the power of a Race Day.
At the Foundation’s first event at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, Race Day will welcome families from the Children’s Tumor Foundation, along with representatives from local area neurofibromatosis (NF) support organizations, as well as campers from the Florida-based Camp Boggy Creek. Additional partner organizations will be announced throughout the season.
“The racing community has been so incredibly supportive in helping to launch Race Day,” continued Ms. Beck. “We look forward to bringing families to the track, providing transformative experiences that not only put huge smiles on the faces of children who are battling serious illness, but also delivering on our promise to create an environment ‘Where Kids Finish First’.”
About The Race Day Foundation
The Race Day Foundation is a 501(c)(3) for-good foundation, offering children and families living with life-threatening illness a “day away” from their daily challenges. By harnessing the power of the racing and automotive communities, we are able to provide a uniquely empowering, hope-filled Race Day – a positive experience shared by patients, parents and siblings alike. Learn more at racedayfoundation.org. “Like” us on Facebook, follow along on Instagram and Twitter.
Race Day. Where Kids Finish First™
Executive Director, The Race Day Foundation