LONG POND – Fan involvement and Community service have been a hallmark of NASCAR racing. As the sport has grown, so has the generosity. Donations have been given by the drivers, the sponsors, and now the track owners.
The Mattioli family, who launched a Green project last year to build a field of solar arrays to make the track energy self-sufficient but also serve the surrounding community, has topped their project by donating $1 million to Lehigh Valley Trauma Center.
Dr. Elliot Sussman, President and CEO of Lehigh Valley Health Network, announced the trauma center, the largest trauma center in the commonwealth has been renamed the Mattioli Trauma Center.
"It is wonderful for the community in terms of what resources like that can help us do a better job of taking care of people throughout eastern Pennsylvania," Dr. Sussman said
Sussman met Doc and Rose Mattioli at a Pocono race last season and began a friendship that blossomed. The Mattioli's asked how they could help and followed through
"I think what Doc and Rose care about is taking care of their family and their community."
They had a deep attachment to Bobby Allison who survived a horrific crash at Pocono 22-years ago. On the first lap of the 500 mile race, Allison's tire blew and he hit the wall. The accident caused life threatening injuries to the legendary driver and Lehigh Valley trauma experts were on the scene.
"He is alive today because specialized trauma care was available." Dr. Sussman said.
The donation will allow the network to continue to explore leading-edge technology to provide new and even better ways to provide trauma care to Eastern Pennsylvania.
"The Mattioli's, through generosity and commitment, will help our network save countless more lives for generations to come," Sussman said.
Pepsi Refresh Program
Pepsi, a long-time sponsor of NASCAR is in the final month of the Pepsi Refresh Project.
Hendrick Motorsports racers Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are asking fans to go online and vote for the best idea that each of the racers are passionate. Gordon is establishing a program to support the treatment, care and protection of abused children. Johnson is looking to provide financial relief to pediatric bone marrow transplant patients, and Earnhardt is looking to build a computer lab for elementary students in a school near his house.
"I am so excited to be a part of Pepsi project that is youthful and energetic and that it is helping to change the world," Jeff Gordon said.
The program is a groundbreaking effort to foster innovation in social good that will award more than $20 million this year to fund great ideas that improve America's communities. Through 2010, Pepsi will fund ideas that will move the word forward in six categories: Health, Arts & Culture, Food & Shelter, The Planet, Neighborhoods and Education.
To submit ideas or to cast a vote for which driver idea should win the $100,000 grant should visit www.NASCAR.com/PepsiRefresh.
Eldora Prelude to the Dream
The sixth annual Eldora Prelude to the Dream race will be run June 9th at Eldora raceway in Ohio.
The race is organized by owner/driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, Tony Stewart who bought the dirt race track in 2004. This year proceeds will benefit four children's hospitals: Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Levine Children's Hospital, Riley Hospital for Children, and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
This year's star-studded race will have drivers divided into four teams representing each of the hospitals. The team with the most points will receive 45-percent of the proceeds while the other teams receive 25% for second place and 15% each for third and fourth.
"I think it gives these guys some pride in knowing that their finishing position counts and they know that hopefully that will be the points that helps propel their team to getting the majority of the proceeds," Stewart said.
The lineup includes some of the best that racing has to offer. Joining Stewart will be four-time defending Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, and Kyle Busch. From the IRL series Tony Kanaan of Team 7-eleven will join a team and race in the dirt.
The goal once again is to raise $1 million. "We haven't been able to reach that goal yet, but with this year's Prelude where we have a race within a race; I think we have our best shot yet," Stewart said.
This year's Prelude to the Dream will once again be broadcast on HBO Pay-Per-View. Coverage is set to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 9. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.preludetothedream.org.