IndyCar Has Harvey On Its Mind

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 3 2017

T-shirts supporting victims of Hurricane Harvey were available at Watkins Glen over the weekend. (RacinToday photo by Martha Fairris)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – The INDYCAR and NASCAR communities are rallying this weekend in support of the victims of Hurricane Harvey in the Greater Houston and Southeast Texas areas.

Houston native A.J. Foyt Jr. and his Verizon IndyCar Series team spent part of Saturday at Watkins Glen International promoting their project on behalf of the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Established by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, Foyt’s ABC Supply team has selected HHRF as beneficiary of gray-colored t-shirts they have made with the hashtag #Race4Houston logo emblazoned on the state of Texas.

A.J. Foyt Racing drivers Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly autographed the merchandise Saturday afternoon at The Glen, shortly after team president Larry Foyt addressed the media about the effort. Foyt’s racing shop is located in Waller, Texas, about a 45-minute drive from the hard-hit Houston downtown.

The storm dropped a near all-time U.S. record of 51.9 inches of rain on the Houston area. According to an early Moody’s Analytics estimate, the storm will result in $30-billion to $40-billion in property damage. Additionally, the storm may have ruined up to 1-million vehicles along the Texas Gulf Coast, according to automotive data firm Black Book. Approximately one in seven cars in the Houston area may have been destroyed, USA Today reported.

The homes of team-owner Foyt, his family and crew were not damaged by Harvey with the exception of one crew member who did sustain some flooding. Preparation of Foyt’s two Dallara/Chevrolets driven by Munoz and Daly last week in Speedway, Ind., previously had been planned due to the northern swing in the schedule that saw the series compete at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., outside St. Louis, on consecutive August weekends.

“We were very lucky,” said Larry Foyt, A.J.’s son. “I think of our whole team, we only had one person who had some damage. He was actually shop-based, so he was able to be home and see to his issues.

No, we all got very lucky. We were at Gateway racing (on Saturday, Aug. 26), couldn’t go home just because there was no way _ even A.J. Even if we could have flown to a surrounding city (Brenham), there was no way to get to either my house or A.J.’s home. We knew my mom was OK and my wife was OK.

We stayed on the road and went to Indy to work with the teams. It was just a really helpless feeling to not be able to go home and having to watch all the images on TV of all the people. We just wanted to try to help any way we could, even though we couldn’t be at home.

I knew some people who knew Mayor Sylvester Turner and Judge Emmett, who set up the Greater Houston Community Foundation, run that, set up the Harvey Fund through there. We knew it was a credible place to help people.

“A big ‘thank you’ to INDYCAR. With our team we have a little bit of reach. But when INDYCAR jumped on board with us, helped us really push it and helped us with the t-shirt campaign, it reaches a whole new group of INDYCAR fans and racing fans. Just really appreciative of their efforts.”

To further raise awareness of the charity, decals featuring the #Race4Houston logo will be carried on Munoz’s No. 14 and Daly’s No. 4 cars for the final two races of the season here and at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California on Sept. 17. Smaller decals will be made available to Verizon IndyCar Series teams wishing to participate in the awareness campaign.

Larry Foyt said he has been heartened by the response from athletes and executives in various professional sports in response to Harvey. That effort has been led most notably by J.J. Watt of the NFL’s Houston Texans. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has raised more than $17-million for victims of Harvey. Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, also has his franchise actively involved in the Texans’ relief effort.

I think for a lot of us, I know in my lifetime, this is probably some of the worst devastation I’ve seen in the United States, for sure _ probably the worst,” said Larry Foyt, who is responsible for the daily operation of his father’s organization. “Just great to see all the teams really, because sometimes when you’re away from it, you’re not affected, it can take a backseat. But everybody has been so supportive. It was really cool that last (third) practice session (Saturday), I was watching cars drive by on pit road, seeing the big decals, really pushing the campaign. Really thankful for that. Hopefully we can raise some money.

“A lot of people obviously (have responded). J.J. Watt and some big celebrities. I’m sure there will be some more benefits. But the amount of damage, the numbers we’re hearing, in the billions, just staggering. Everything we can do from everyone will help.”

T-shirts can be purchased online at ShopIndyCar.com, as well as from the merchandise tents at WGI during Sunday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen at $28 each. Net proceeds will benefit the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund in response to the many citizens and companies asking how they can help. Direct donations also can be made on the GHCF.org website.

Meanwhile, NASCAR teams in all three national touring series are honoring the Lone Star State with “Texas Strong” decals for all race vehicles competing this weekend.

The decals, located on the A-post that extends from the roofline to the base of the windshield on the majority of vehicles, are being utilized during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series races at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and the Camping World Truck Series event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario, Canada.

The decal could possibly return when all three national series travel to Fort Worth and Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500 tripleheader race weekend scheduled for Nov. 2-5 as part of NASCAR’s playoffs.

Brennan Poole, who competes in the Xfinity Series for Chip Ganassi Racing, is a native of The Woodlands, a community located 30 miles north of Houston.

“Houston is my home,” Poole said. “It’s tough to see all of my friends and family and my cousins and uncles and everybody battling with the disaster down there. We’re doing a food bank this week at the Ganassi race shop and anyone is welcome to come by and donate food or money to the cause. We’re working together as a group to help those in need.

“Like I said, it’s my home, I grew up there. It’s my city and I want to do everything I can to support and help these families in need.”

NASCAR has launched an industry-wide drive for donations through its NASCAR Foundation. Donations through The NASCAR Foundation www.nascarfoundation.org will help provide truckloads of disaster relief supplies including bottled water, ready-to-eat food, hygiene items and more through the Foundation’s support of children and families directly impacted by the storm.

And while it officially is billed as “Throwback Weekend” at Darlington, a few Cup teams have made last-minute paint scheme changes to honor those affected by the disaster. Team Penske and sponsor Shell-Pennzoil announced that Joey Logano’s No. 22 Ford Fusion will sport a Red Cross paint scheme for Sunday’s Southern 500. Also, Shell Oil has pledged $1-million to the Red Cross and Logano another $25,000 for disaster relief.

Additionally, Rick Ware Racing scrapped the original throwback paint scheme on son Cody Ware’s No. 51 Chevrolet SS. The car still resembles the one Tom Cruise drove in the movie Days of Thunder, but “Pray for Texas” now is displayed across the hood and sides after a 24-hour turnaround. Owners Rick and Lisa Ware _ high school sweethearts from the Houston area _ know several family members that were forced to evacuate and also found out that both of their high schools were under water.

NASCAR Xfinity Series veteran Elliott Sadler, who has many friends in the Houston area, announced Friday he would donate his portion of his race winnings from Saturday’s event at Darlington to the relief fund effort. 

Texas Motor Speedway is finalizing a Hurricane Harvey Donation Drive next Thursday and Friday at O. Bruton Smith’s North Texas facility. TMS will become a prime drop-off area for Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex residents looking to help out the relief effort with essential items as previously listed. Details will be announced early next week.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 3 2017
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