Talladega, AL (May 1, 2013) – In motorsports, those responsible for delivering fascinating experiences and inspiring new supporters are often the race car drivers themselves, which is no surprise given the intense atmosphere and often dangerous surroundings they encounter between the green and checkered flags.
But in Friday’s International Motorsports Hall of Fame 250 at Talladega Superspeedway, the design of Caleb Armstrong’s No. 55 Venturini Motorsports Toyota will present a more lasting message, one that will provide key perspective to anyone watching, race fan or not.
“Susie’s Hope,” both a film and nonprofit foundation promoting awareness of animal abuse, will be the sponsor for Armstrong’s Venturini entry in Friday’s race, which will air live on SPEED at 5/4 CT. The mission of Susie’s Hope – the nonprofit foundation – is to end the epidemic of animal abuse that has spread throughout the nation by creating awareness of the problem and providing education about its solution.
In 2008, Donna Lawrence, a salon owner from High Point, N.C., suffered an attack by an abused and neglected pit bull, which left her hospitalized and unable to conceive a child. After recovering, Lawrence discovered and adopted Susie, another abandoned pit bull mix who was severely beaten.
Since 2009, Donna and Susie Lawrence have visited hospitals, nursing homes, schools, community groups, and other gatherings to spread the message of love, hope, and forgiveness through the foundation Susie’s Hope. Earlier this month, the film “Susie’s Hope,” starring Emmanuelle Vaugier and directed by Jerry Rees, debuted to more than 900 people over three sold-out showings at the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C. At Talladega, the film and the foundation are expected to see even greater exposure on Armstrong’s race car, before what is traditionally one of ARCA’s larger TV audiences.
“It was a new concept for us to consider, getting Donna’s nonprofit message and the movie’s message out through racing and the loyal race fans,” said Eve Roser, an experienced animal rescuer and one of the film’s executive producers. “Donna and Susie are celebrities in North Carolina, but in order to get the word out about the film and her charity, the Venturinis helped us understand the loyal race fans and the number of people that are watching ARCA races on television.”
Promoting “Susie’s Hope” in a field where many car sponsors are consumer products and services helps the film and foundation see greater exposure, Roser says.
“Because it’s a movie, unlike tires or automotive parts, we stand out. Everyone wants to ask about Susie’s Hope. We’re able to be singled out, and it’s such a powerful story. ARCA allows fans to come into the garage to meet the drivers, and the first race we attended with Susie’s Hope was Daytona. It was an incredible experience. We were able to give out thousands of brochures about the film and the nonprofit and the fans had a great response to what we were doing. We realized that racing could help get Susie’s message to the nation in a different approach.”
Before and since the passing of Susie’s Law – a 2010 bill signed by North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue which stiffened the penalties for animal abuse in the state – Donna and Susie have been on a journey of forgiveness, one that might just provide a dose of perspective to those on the race track who worry about a position lost or a missing lug nut.
“God saved Donna’s life for a reason,” Roser said. “Susie was brutally beaten, had her jaw broken, and was doused in lighter fluid and left to burn, and that helped Donna forgive the dog that attacked her and all the losses she had suffered. Susie brought extreme healing. The message for this film that we feel will resonate with anyone is that she and Susie could have been victims, but they’re living victorious lives. Susie forgave her attacker, as did Donna, and they’re spreading the message of love, hope, and forgiveness. One woman and one dog can make a difference.”
Information on Susie’s Hope – the film and the nonprofit foundation – is available at SusiesHope.com, on Facebook by searching Susie’s Hope, or on Twitter at @Susies_Hope.
Practice for the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 250 will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, with qualifying to follow at 5:05. Final practice will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, with an open garage period for fans at noon and the 94-lap race at 4. All times are Central. The 51st annual ARCA race at Talladega is live on SPEED Friday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. eastern. In addition to the television broadcast, ARCARacing.com will carry live timing and scoring coverage of all on-track action.
About Venturini Motorsports
Venturini Motorsports (VMS), fielding cars for over 30-years in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, is one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the country. Multiple team championships and consistent on-track success, VMS has evolved into one of the most recognizable names in motorsports. Since 2007, VMS has assisted in the career development of notable NASCAR drivers such as Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Brian Scott, Kevin Swindell, Miguel Paludo, John Wes Townley, Josh Richards and Johanna Long.
In 2012, VMS and the Venturini family was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame and now find themselves enshrined with such sports icons as Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Rocky Marciano, among others.
After nearly two decades away from NASCAR, 2013 marks VMS’s modern day return to the series with John Wes Townley driving the team’s familiar No.25 in selective NASCAR Nationwide Series events.
Official: www.VenturiniMotorsports.com | Twitter: @VenturiniMotor | Facebook: Venturini Motorsports