Mike Lovecchio · Tuesday January 15, 2008
NASCAR testing may be going on all this month at Daytona International Speedway, but as teams headed back to their hotels Monday night, the racing was just beginning across the river at the Daytona Lagoon water park. Former Sprint Cup driver Steve Park, Jamie France, and SPEED TV analyst Dan Pardus were among those taking part in the Cypress Coquina Bank 100 charity go-kart race presented by the Rotary Club of Ormond Beach.
The turnout couldn’t have been any better — and the same goes for the competition. The event featured five-car teams and 20-lap segments totaling 100 laps at the Water Park’s multi-level go-kart track. But while the action was hot and heavy, so was the financial commitment, as the night was held to support a number of causes.
“We’re raising money for other charities that we get involved with locally,” said Jimmy Foster, Rotary Club member and chairman of the event. “We’re trying to raise around $15,000, and we should be right at our goal.”
The Ormond Beach chapter of the Rotary Club also hosts a golf tournament for scholarship money and is buying dictionaries for local third grade students, but a charity go-kart race is something new. However, Foster – a former Goody’s Dash Series and Nationwide Series driver – had no problem lining up celebrities for the race.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done this event. We usually do a raffle, but we decided to replace it with this,” he explained. “I used to race a little bit, so I knew some of these guys. I called them up and they were very supportive of it. Anytime they can do something for charity, especially something like this in the Daytona Beach area — you don’t see many charity go-kart races — they’re glad to do it.
One of the celebrity drivers on hand was former Sprint Cup winner Steve Park, who recently announced that he is going to run the full NASCAR Camping World East Series (formerly Busch East) schedule with Waste Management as a sponsor.
“Anytime you can raise money for the Rotary Club, it’s a good thing,” Park said. “Everyone’s done a great job putting this thing together. This is no small deal, it’s a pretty big deal. Hopefully, we can raise as much money as possible.”
Park was recently at winter testing searching for a Craftsman Truck Series ride — but regardless of whether a deal comes through over there, he’s excited to run in a series similar to where he made his start.
“It’s the old stomping grounds for me. I came from the Busch North Series way back when before I moved up the ranks,” he said. “Since our schedule’s been slow this year, we’re gonna do the full schedule for them and then try to get a seat in 10 Truck races.”
But who will that team be? As of now, Park isn’t sure — the former Cup winner is simply taking things day-by-day.
“I was out there talking to some teams, and I have no clue what we’re doing,” he shrugged. “We’re just shopping around.”
And in the process, taking a step back — while raising some cash for some very worthy causes.
Editor’s Note: Mike Lovecchio will be covering testing news and information in a variety of ways for us this January at Daytona. To read his reports from earlier in the week, be sure to click the links below:
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