Giving back and being thankful

Posted on: November 24, 2010 | Comments (0) | Indy Lights | By: Arni

This week, a lot of us will gather with our friends or family and give thanks for all that we have.
When it comes time for me to say what I’m thankful for, I’ll have mention the group of drivers who raced in Firestone Indy Lights. It’s pretty rewarding to work with a group of drivers who almost never say no when comes to going above and beyond the call to help others no matter what the time of year.

Earlier this month, a group of drivers participated in the Racing for Home Build for Habitat for Humanity. That home will be dedicated on Dec. 8 and the McClure family will have their very own home.

Dan Clarke paints the interior

Firestone Indy Lights driver Dan Clarke helps out at the Habitat for Humanity build

One of Firestone Indy Lights competitor who participated in that build, Dan Clarke, did his part recently as he tried to draw awareness to the Spinal Cord Injury Hope Fund and brighten the day of some of the beneficiaries. Clarke enlisted the help of his team owner Derrick Walker and along with some of Walker Racing’s former drivers – Scott Goodyear, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power  — hosted an Open House held at the Walker Racing headquarters in Indianapolis.
This wasn’t a typical Open House.

Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Derrick Walker, Scott Goodyear and Dan Clarke at the Walker Racing open house

Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Derrick Walker, Scott Goodyear and Dan Clarke at the Walker Racing Open House

Clarke, who met the organizers of the SCI Hope Fund at a golf outing, originally intended to just give a tour to SCI Hope Fund’s organizers and some of the people who have received grants from the group, which helps those who have had their lives changed by recent spinal cord injuries.  But two weeks before the event, he decided to open the tour to race fans and hoped to build more awareness for the SCI Hope Fund.

Scott Goodyear, Will Power, Dan Clarke and Simon Pagenaud with some lucky fans

Scott Goodyear, Will Power, Dan Clarke and Simon Pagenaud with some lucky fans

It gave those who attended a behind the scenes look at Walker’s team, which hopes to compete in both Firestone Indy Lights and the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2011.

Dan Clarke shows fans around the shop

Dan Clarke gives fans a tour of the shop

“Organizing an event is always hard work,” Clarke said. “There’s a lot of planning ahead and pre-thinking and that’s stuff I don’t normally do. It’s the first time I’ve ever done an event like this and I’ve learned a lot of lessons. It’s nice to see everyone come out and makes all the effort that we did worth it.”

Power, who signed autographs and took pictures with fans, was grateful to meet some of the families who benefit directly from grants from the fund.  “I’m always keen to come out and support a good cause,” he said. “I had a good chat with a young guy who is in a wheelchair and listened to his story. He may actually walk again, which would be really good. Hopefully, the SCI Hope Fund will be able to keep me up on his progress. It’s unbelievable to see someone who is in that situation and I’ll always try to do what I can to help those who help others.”

Will Power and Dan Clarke chat with a lucky fan

Will Power and Dan Clarke chat it up with a fan

While most of the people looked at the tools it takes to field a winning race team, some fans tried racing on Clarke’s simulator with yours truly posting one of the top times at Indianapolis. In the spirit of giving, I gave up my prize to the next person in line. Given the people I was around, it seemed fitting.

Stephen Simpson gives directions to a young fan on the iRacing simulator

Fans take a spin in the iRacing simulator

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