JOLIET – Andy Gaddis was one of dozens of racing fans who came out to the Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday for the “Go Green for Spring” event.
As a season pass holder, he was able to drive the mile and a half lap. Since he’s been bringing his son to watch the races for about five years now, he figured it’d be cool to drive the track himself.
“It leans,” Gaddis said about the angle the track takes on turns. “It really shows you what the drivers go through, but only not at the same g-force.”
The event wasn’t just for the fans though. To drive around the track, fans donated to Racing Advocates for Community Enrichment, or RACE, a Donor Advised Fund of the NASCAR Foundation which collects money to donate to other nonprofits and charitable organizations.
Since 2012, RACE has raised over $300,000 in grants to donate to local community agencies focused on youth, military and safe driving initiatives.
“It’s just our way of being a good corporate citizen and giving back to the community,” said Scott Paddock, president of the Chicagoland Speedway. “It’s one of the rare opportunities we allow our fans to drive the hallowed magnificent mile and a half here that names like [Dale] Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick are going to be competing on.”
Fans were also able to bid on 50/50 raffles items like race flags, a jersey signed by Kurt and Kyle Busch and Chicago Cubs tickets. Other local organizations like the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties set up booths and the Joliet Fire and Police Departments also attended with their “Touch-A-Truck” program for kids.
But for racing fans like Gaddis, the highlight still was getting to finally be out on the track like their favorite drivers.
“It was a blast,” Gaddis said. “I wish they’d let me go faster.”