Star Speedway promoter Bobby Webber, Jr. often looks at his two children, Jaime and Tim, and realizes just how lucky he is. He’s grateful because he is the father of two healthy teenagers who aren’t fighting cancer, who aren’t battling with the everyday struggle of autism and who aren’t in need of a prosthetic leg.
The sad truth is that there are too many children around the world who can’t live a normal life because of the challenges they face whether it be cancer, autism or the loss of a limb.
As a father, this is something that hits Webber close to home, and because of that he’s using his resources – including his family-owned race track in Epping, New Hampshire – to help raise money for children in need and provide them with an enriched lifestyle.
“I get really into anything to do with kids, it just means a lot to me,” Webber told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I look at my own two kids all of the time and realize how lucky I am. They’re cancer-free and there’s nothing wrong with them. They’re healthy and I knock on wood and figure (I should do) whatever I can do to help other families that aren’t so lucky.
Throughout the 2016 racing season, Star Speedway will raise money and bring awareness to charitable causes such as the Make-A-Wish foundation and Support 50 Legs, a non-profit organization that provides prosthetic legs to young children.
The track’s first big race of the season, the Support 50 Legs 150 for the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North takes place this Saturday, May 7 and Webber is excited to bring awareness to a great cause.
“Steve Chamberlain is who started 50 Legs and he’s been a lifelong friend of Louie (Mechalides) and that’s how I met him,” Webber said. “He got hit at a stop sign on his motorcycle probably 15 years ago now and he lost his leg in the accident. Ever since then he made it his cause to help kids. All they do is legs, prosthetics, for kids. He’s seen kids suffering that can’t accomplish what they want to accomplish because they don’t have the funds to buy a prosthetic. His goal is to furnish as many kids as possible with the legs they need in order to enrich their life.”
Webber’s goal for the 2016 season is to raise $17,000 for Support 50 Legs. If he does that, the money will cover the cost of two prosthetic legs ($8,500 each) for young children whose families are unable to afford them.
“Steve didn’t sponsor the race or anything, there was no sponsor for it and last year I had my own company sponsor it. But this year I said why not try to spread the name, the 50 Legs name, and try to get more recognition for Steve and his charity by calling it the Support 50 Legs 150. When people ask, now you can kind of explain to them what it is and everything.”
Chamberlain and other representatives from Support 50 Legs will be on hand at the New Hampshire bullring Saturday to provide more information to race fans about the cause.
There will be a 50/50 drawing on race day with the track’s 50-percent going towards their Support 50 Legs fundraising goal of $17,000. Northern Race Tire will also be donating $5 per tire purchased and New England Race Fuel will donate $1 per gallon of fuel sold during Saturday’s Support 50 Legs 150.
In addition to his work with Support 50 Legs, Webber will also be raising money throughout the year for the Make-A-Wish foundation, a cause he supports through the annual DT100 race held in Scarborough, Maine.
Last year, Webber raised over $10,000 for the DT100 and Make-A-Wish, which was second to Star Speedway racer Jimmy Renfrew. This year, he’ll be back at it again with a slightly bigger goal. He wants to raise $15,000 for the cause.
“Each week I have a raffle for two tickets to the following week’s races. We sell 40 tickets a week for two pit passes for the following week’s races for $10 so if all the tickets sell that’s another $400 a week. My goal this year is to get $15,000 for Make-A-Wish. Each year I try to do a little bit more because I think it’s for a good cause.”
Each year, the kids from the Make-A-Wish foundation make their way to the DT100 to share their stories about how their wish was granted. They also strap into go-karts and race with racers including Webber and event organizer Dave Thomas, Jr. According to Webber, that moment alone is worth all of the work raising the money.
“When the kids were there that really affected me a lot when they did that thing on the track with us and everything and had them drive the go-karts with us,” he said. “I thought that was the coolest part of the whole weekend. I don’t think I stopped laughing all weekend. I just had fun the whole weekend and just tried to remember what the whole bottom line was.”
Star Speedway will also bring awareness to the fight against autism throughout the 2016 season with their headline division, the Supermodifieds, being referred to as the Autism Awareness 350 Supers.
In addition to raising money through the race track, Webber will also be raising funds for both causes through his Bobby Webber, Jr. Racing team. Each time that his Supermodified wins a feature this season he plans to donate an additional $400 to the cause. But Webber won’t be the only team owner/driver racing for a good cause this coming season.
“Other guys have started to jump in and do it as well,” explained Webber. “Last week, John Cashman won the Strictly feature and he’s going to donate $50 every time his car wins. Other guys like Mike Humphrey, who bought my Super from last year, is going to also donate $300 every time he wins. Jimmy Renfrew will also be donating all of his winnings each time he wins a Roadrunner feature at the track. Guys are starting to jump on board because they see the goodness in it and the feeling of giving back.”
During a time when promoters are putting a lot of focus on the bottom line and just surviving as a race track, some may ask how Webber is able to do so much for these different charities.
“Of course you have to look at the bottom line, but my thing is that I’ve always said in order to make money you’ve got to spend money,” said Webber. “What I’m doing by giving back like I am, my father says it’s good karma because other people are coming forward and helping me. I think they’re seeing what’s happening. We had a non-points opener (two weeks ago) and we had more people front gate and back gate than we’ve had for any regular points event in the past three years.
“I think the tide is finally starting to turn and I think instead of just concentrating on how to make money, I think by doing things and spreading the word in a good way with these charities it brings attention to the speedway.”
Webber also believes that his associations with various charitable associations are bringing more people out to the race track. People want to support people that support them, and because of that he’s noticing more people in the grandstands that weren’t going to the race track before.
“There has been new people coming because they’ve seen the association with Make-A-Wish and they’ve seen the support with Support 50 Legs or with Autism Awareness,” stated Webber. “They’ve seen some of the cars that have the Autism Awareness on it and people are like, ‘Oh, I have a child that is autistic and they do well with race cars.’ There’s been people who have come to the races for the first time and I think part of it is that they’ve seen it through these charitable associations.”
For more information on Saturday’s Support 50 Legs 150 and the rest of the charitable efforts taking place at Star Speedway, fans are encouraged to visit www.star-speedway.com.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51