For the past two weekends, NASCAR has done a tremendous job of hosting the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. The virtual racing series has been a great way to provide a sense of normalcy for racing fans during a time when the coronavirus has made everyday life rather different for everyone.
On the virtual track, the racing has been entertaining and for the most part, very realistic. The graphics alone make it hard to tell if it’s a real race or not when just flipping through the channels. The drivers have done a great job of approaching the series in a competitive manner, but also keeping it lighthearted for everyone watching.
While the industry has done an outstanding job of providing fans this source of entertainment on the track, they should also be applauded for the efforts they’ve made off of the track at this time. They’ve used the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series as a way to help raise funds for those affected by COVID-19.
In conjunction with the series, the NASCAR Foundation has been working with tracks to provide support for the communities surrounding the tracks. With Homestead-Miami Speedway serving as the site of the first eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, I’m happy to say we have all come together to raise nearly $40,000 in relief efforts.
I’m proud to say the donations came from a number of different facets of our industry, including drivers, television broadcasts and corporate partners such as Dixie Vodka. It was really neat to see the sport rally around the cause as they raced at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Denny Hamlin, who won the Dixie Vodka 150 virtual race, pledged money before the race for every lap he led and an additional amount if he won the race. Fellow driver Kevin Harvick then said he’d match the donation if Hamlin won. Seeing these drivers have fun while raising money for those in need shows the power sport can have in times like these, even when the real season is put on hold.
The funds that were raised will go to our local chapter of Feed the Children in the form of supplies and food, while Farm Share will help distribute the items. For those of you who aren’t aware, Farm Share is a local agency which
distributes fresh food to families, children, seniors and individuals in need throughout Florida. You may remember the name from our Give Back at the Track events, where Farm Share has held a presence to collect food donations.
The supplies and food provided as a result of this donation will be distributed this Saturday, April 4 in conjunction with the Homestead Rotary Club distribution event at the site of the old baseball stadium here in Homestead.
As someone who has lived in South Florida for my entire life, I’m really happy to see the community rally together like we always do in times of need. We often see this type of response from our community in the aftermath of hurricanes, and it’s really great to see the same type of support during this unique situation.
Aside from our local support, I also want to thank the NASCAR Foundation for their work in aiding those in need in South Florida. The foundation always does a tremendous job supporting the racing community and to see them put an emphasis on Homestead during the Dixie Vodka 150 was really cool and something that I know our fans greatly appreciate.
As I mentioned before, the NASCAR Foundation’s support as well as that from their partners and drivers, really show the power of sports. I have always been a believer that sports has the ability to transcend many things that happen in the world and often allows people an outlet when necessary. Seeing this come to fruition through iRacing and giving back to the community is something really special.
When the late Ralph Sanchez founded our track after Hurricane Andrew, his main goal was to help revitalize the City of Homestead and give back to the community. As we commemorate our 25th anniversary this year, the coronavirus kept us from running our race weekend on its scheduled dates. It can’t, however, keep us and NASCAR from continuing to make an impact in the community and making Sanchez proud of all that we do off of the track.