Chicagoland Speedway seeks to give back to community
May 8, 2012 11:36PM
Cheryl McCarthy (left), superintendent of Joliet Township High School, talks with Scott Paddock (right), president of Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway, before the start of a R.A.C.E. (Racing Advocates for Community Enrichment) charity announcement in the Little Theater at Joliet Central High School Tuesday, May 8, 2012, at 201 E. Jefferson St. in Joliet. Joliet Township High School, Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway are teaming up to support charities in the Chicago area. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 11, 2012 9:12AM
JOLIET — A new nonprofit foundation, with an emphasis on giving back to the community, is being created by Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway.
The foundation will focus on youth, the military and safe driving.
Leaders announced the new effort — called Racing Advocates for Community Enrichment — on Tuesday morning before an audience of students at Joliet Central High School.
“This community opened their arms and embraced us 11 years ago when we came here, and it’s really our duty and our obligation to give back to this community,” said Scott Paddock, president of the speedway and raceway.
The foundation will raise money through various events, with all funds being allocated to charitable organizations at the end of each year, Paddock said.
“We’re going to focus on Joliet and Will County, in terms of giving those resources back to worthwhile, deserving causes,” he said.
The foundation has begun the process of receiving grant applications. An advisory board will review applications in the fall, and make donations and award grants in December.
Paddock reviewed the three primary areas of focus for the new foundation:
Youth: “You’re the future of our society, both locally and on a national level,” Paddock told the students.
Military: “At a time when the men and women of our armed forces are making unprecedented sacrifices, I think we all have an obligation to show our appreciation in any way possible,” Paddock said. “As an industry, community and country, we take a great deal of pride in serving those who have served us.”
Safe driving: “Driving fast and pushing the limit on the track is our business. But that’s where we want it to stay — on the track,” Paddock said.
Marianne Hankins, who graduated from Joliet West High School in the 1990s, now works for the Illinois Department of Transportation. She spoke to students on safe driving.
“Distracted driving is any activity that is going to take your attention away from the primary task of driving,” said Hankins, program coordinator for Operation Teen Safe Driving.
She spoke of the three key points of driving: visual, or keeping both eyes on the road; manual, or keeping both hands on the wheel; and cognitive, or staying focused.
Hankins warned students about some causes of distracted driving: cell phones, food, music, passengers, reading, driving while emotional, makeup or grooming, and distractions in the outside environment.
Royce Chandler, a senior, said the message came at an appropriate time.
“I thought the presentation was well-timed because this is a stage where we’re going to prom and then senior banquets. It’s a lot of traveling. It’s a lot of here and there,” Chandler said.
Chicagoland Speedway has been a significant partner with Joliet Township High School, school Superintendent Cheryl McCarthy said.
“I’m glad the speedway is leading this initiative, and we will work with them to do whatever they would like us to do. We’re here for you,” McCarthy said.
The foundation’s advisory board includes community representatives such as McCarthy and Joliet Mayor Thomas Giarrante, along with Paddock and others.
For more information, visit online at www.chicagolandspeedway.com.