Monday night, Marcus Smith and Darrell and Michael Waltrip kicked off both Speedway Christmas and the Season of Giving at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The trio flipped the switch on over 3 million lights, helped give out the yearly grants to local organizations on behalf of Speedway Children’s Charities (SCC) and presented a tractor trailer full of food and supplies to NASCAR driver Morgan Shepherd to support his charitable efforts.
As part of the celebration, Smith, with a little help from Santa Claus, distributed toys to more than 125 children representing local organizations assisted by SCC in 2012, including Victory Junction Gang Camp, Cabarrus County Partnership for Children and A Child’s Place of Charlotte.
In 2012, 37 different organizations, which impact more than 30,000 children locally, will benefit from SCC grant funding.
“Giving really is the best part of Thanksgiving,” said Smith, president of the Charlotte Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. “So what better way to kick off the holiday week than by helping so many worthy organizations in their efforts to serve children in need in our community.”
Also as part of the speedway’s Season of Giving, NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip and 1996 All-Star Race winner Michael Waltrip were on hand to make a special presentation. Several NASCAR drivers teamed up to buy the NASCAR on FOX “Big Rig of Help,” an 18-wheeler stocked with 20,000 pounds of food donated by Speedway Children’s Charities. The Waltrips and Smith surprised Shepherd Monday evening with the food-laden truck, which will benefit 400 families.
Shepherd has made the same trek to Stuart and Galax, Va. for the past 25 years to share Christmas joy with families in need.
Along with Monday’s presentation to Shepherd, the Waltrips also presented Feed The Children and Motor Racing Outreach with $100,000 checks, each raised at this year’s Waltrip Brothers’ Charity Championship.
Following the presentations, the Waltrip brothers and Smith led hundreds of families through the opening night of the 3.5-mile Speedway Christmas light show.
Since the organization was founded in 1982, Speedway Children’s Charities has raised more than $47 million and made a difference in the lives of more than 11.3 million children across the United States. The children who have been helped over the last 30 years would fill the stands of the eight SMI tracks more than nine times.
With the help of volunteers and the support of sponsors, SCC raises money through various fundraising activities such as track walks, auctions, raffles, holiday light displays, annual galas and more. Individual and corporate donations are also made throughout the year.
Operating hours for Speedway Christmas will be 6 to 10 p.m., nightly through Dec. 30, excluding Christmas Day. Tickets are available online or at the gate nightly during event hours for drive-up traffic. Admission is just $15 per car on nights the Christmas village is closed and $20 per car on nights the village is open. Group packages are available.
The Coca-Cola Family Ice Rink, sponsored by New Life 91.9FM will be open daily through Jan. 21, excluding Christmas Day. Admission is $12, which includes skate rentals. For information about group outings call 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or for private events at the rink, call Extreme Ice Center at 704-778-1208.