NASCAR Stars Put Fa La La in the SeasonBy Mary Jo Buchanan
What’s a NASCAR driver to do in the off season? For many, there are sponsor commitments, testing, and just plain relaxing with family and friends.
But for some of NASCAR’s brightest stars, this time of year is all about putting the ‘fa la la’ in the holiday season, especially for those in need.
Greg Biffle, who usually spends his time behind the wheel of the No. 16 3M Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, decided instead to spread some holiday cheer by serving as chauffeur for one of his fellow RFR employees for the company’s holiday bash.
The colleagues at Roush Fenway Racing took a chance on a ride with the Biff by purchasing raffle tickets, with proceeds benefitting the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program to needy children. The raffle winner got chauffeured to and from the party in Biffle’s 1983 ‘Boss Hogg’ style limo, complete with horns on the front of the car and a horn playing the theme from the ‘Dukes of Hazard.’
“We decided to raffle off a ride for a Roush Fenway employee to the company party this year and use the money to buy gifts for the Salvation Army Angel Tree program,” Biffle said. “Roush Fenway agreed to match the proceeds.”
“I had wanted to do something for a local family this holiday season and I thought it would be fun to raffle off a ride in this old limo,” Biffle continued. “I saw it at an auto auction and thought it would be fun to drive around.”
The winner of the Biffle ride was Brian Steager, who has worked for RFR for nine years in the paint and body department.
“It was a very good ride,” Steager said. “We got there safe and sound and it was an excellent experience all the way around.”
The holiday ride with the Biff raised over $2,000 for the Salvation Army, which will grant the holiday wishes of several children this year.
“It was a lot of fun,” Biffle said. “It went to a very worthy cause and hopefully we’ll do it again soon.”
Two of NASCAR’s young guns decked the halls with their own version of holiday cheer. Nationwide champ and Cup up and comer Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and new Penske Cup driver Joey Logano put the ‘fa la la’ in the season for troops serving overseas.
Logano and Stenhouse Jr. traveled with the USO to the Middle East and Germany to meet and thank those in uniform. The two drivers visited six bases in all, meeting hundreds of men and women in the military to thank them for their service.
“We had the chance to meet some amazing men and women on our USO tour,” Logano said. “I have so much respect for our troops; they do their jobs day in and day out without complaint and are always giving it their all.”
“We are lucky to have these men and women serving and protecting our country and I can’t thank them enough for all that they do.”
This was Stenhouse’s first holiday tour of USO duty and the young driver thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“It was an honor to meet our troops and see them in action,” Stenhouse said. “The service and sacrifice of these men and women and their families are inspiring.”
“I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for what they do for our country.”
Michael Waltrip, former driver, Daytona 500 winner and now principal in Michael Waltrip Racing, also granted a few holidays wishes of his own. He and his colleagues participated in ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ to help a family in Lincolnton, North Carolina, who had a big heart for foster children but needed an even bigger home.
The Friday family, foster parents to over 30 children took in a teenage boy and his five siblings. Their ranch home, however, needed that bit of a NASCAR makeover in order to have room for the family to celebrate Christmas.
And thanks to Michael Waltrip and his MWR team, the Christmas miracle of a home big enough for all of its children was granted.
Ryan Newman put the final ‘fa la la’ into the holiday season with his annual Ryan Newman Foundation dinner and auction, raising over $340,000 for animal welfare, education and conservation activities. The event also featured a charity fishing tournament, with 148 teams competing.
“Krissie and I appreciate everyone who participated in the fishing tournament,” Newman said. “The weather was perfect.”
While the experts were fishing, Neman actually was schmoozing with sponsors and other fans on a luxury yacht, all in the name of charity.
“I didn’t know what to think of the yacht event,” Newman said. “But it turned out to be a good thing.”
“It was a good way to have some one on one time with me and check out Lake Norman.”
Even the NASCAR race tracks have gotten into the holiday spirit. Charlotte Motor Speedway, in the heart of racing country, has not only been decked out in holiday lights but will also be showing holiday movies throughout the season, all to benefit Speedway Children’s Charities.
The track’s light show, featuring over 800 displays and more than 3 million lights, has been on display, with movies such as ‘A Christmas Story’, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ and ‘Christmas Vacation’ shown through the end of December.
NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, however, best summed up the sentiments of all of the NASCAR community hoping to spread some good cheer and ‘fa la la’ spirit for the holidays.
“It’s something I think we’ll do again next year.”