Scores of potential donors turned out at Talladega Superspeedway for yesterday's Laps For Life: A Blood & Marrow Drive For Alabama, enabling the American Red Cross to reach within the drive's goal by collecting 90 units of blood. According to the American Red Cross, the units collected from generous donors at the track Monday will directly affect the lives of 270 people.
First in line Monday morning were Darlene Leamon and her husband, Bob, of Cropwell, Ala. Darlene said she had never donated blood and when she heard about the drive being held at one of her favorite places, and on such an important day for the nation, she decided immediately she would participate.
"My husband has donated blood in the past, but I had never done it and wanted to. When I heard about this drive on the radio and saw it again in the newspaper, I told him 'I am going whether you are going or not!'" Darlene said. "Today is a special day for our country, and this seemed like a good way to observe it."
Talladega Superspeedway President Grant Lynch was also among the first to donate Monday, even conducting a live radio interview during his donation procedure, urging others to stop by and give. Lynch expressed his gratitude to all who participated.
"The staff of Talladega Superspeedway is very proud to be a part of this national effort and we thank all of our fans for stopping by and showing their support," Lynch said. "Doing something like this that you know will have such a far-reaching impact provides a real sense of hope on a day when the nation is reflecting."
"The American Red Cross can't thank Talladega Superspeedway and their faithful fans enough for opening their doors to us as a real tribute to the men and women who were victims of Sept. 11 as well as the troops that are protecting us now," said John Sweeney, Assistant Donor Recruitment Manager for the American Red Cross Alabama and Central Gulf Coast Region. "In all, it was an outstanding day."
In addition to commemorating September 11 with an act of generosity, participants also enjoyed a few fun incentives provided by the track. Everyone who showed up to donate received a goody bag and free track tour, and those who pre-registered online received a Talladega Superspeedway hat and a chance to win a driving school package from Racing Experience, Inc.
Darlene and Bob Leamon said they particularly enjoyed checking out the track's new surface.
"This is so cool, I can't wait till October!" Darlene said. "We have come to every race here since we moved to Alabama in 1999, and we have friends from Michigan join us in the spring and friends from California who visit in the fall. This whole time, I have been saying 'why don't trucks race here?' and now they will be. I wake up excited on race week anyway, but this fall is going to be just great."
Talladega Superspeedway Laps For Life: A Blood & Marrow Drive For Alabama is part of a nationwide effort among multiple tracks. The NASCAR Foundation, in partnership with the American Red Cross, Hendrick Marrow Program and the Jimmie Johnson Foundation announced in June at Michigan International Speedway that it would build upon MIS's annual Spirit of America 500 Blood Drive by providing unique experiences at many different tracks that bring out the goodwill and community pride in all race fans. In addition to giving blood, fans are also encouraged to join the National Marrow Donor Program's Registry of volunteer marrow donors. Every day, thousands of patients with life-threatening diseases that could be treated with a marrow transplant are searching the Registry for a donor. Other participating tracks and organizations in Monday's drive include: Michigan International Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, California Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Dover International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Richmond
International Raceway, Watkins Glen International and Hendrick Motorsports.
Talladega Superspeedway will welcome fans back for the UAW-Ford 500 event weekend set for Oct. 6-8, 2006, featuring 1,000 miles of racing in 3 days. The weekend begins with the Food World 250 ARCA RE/MAX Series race on Friday, Oct. 6, followed by the track's inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday, Oct. 7. Then on Sunday, Oct. 8, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams will compete in the UAW-Ford 500, race four in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Kids age 11 and younger are admitted free of charge on Friday and Saturday of race weekends in the general admission grandstands at Talladega Superspeedway. To order tickets, call 1-877-Go2-DEGA (1-877-462-3342). For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). Tickets also are available online at www.racetickets.com, or in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. CDT, Monday - Friday.