Monday, September 03, 2007

Thanks to my son's racing obsession...

Tonight, I was watching NHRA Mac Tools US Drag Racing Nationals with Samual and saw this car...

Naturally, I was curious about the design. On the "doors," it says, "Eric Blake Faulkner...In God's Hands...May 24, 2007."

CLERMONT, Ind. (August 24, 2007) - Mike Ashley, driver of the Torco Racing Fuels Dodge Charger R/T, will drive a special tribute car at the US Nationals designed by legendary Chip Foose and painted by the team at Illusions Custom Paint and Body. The car is part of a fundraising campaign for the Eric Blake Faulkner Foundation and, after its single-race campaign, will be sold to the highest bidder at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, January 12-20, 2008 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Losing a child is possibly the most tragic event a parent could ever face, and Donnie and Hollie Faulkner know that pain all too well. Their son, Eric Blake Faulkner, was stillborn on May 24, 2007, and the experience pushed the couple beyond their limits. Were it not for the angelic support of the St. Vincent's Perinatal Bereavement Program in Little Rock, Ark., the couple said they would not have survived with their sanity. Determined to turn tragedy into something positive, they created the Eric Blake Faulkner Foundation to help others faced with a similar situation.

The Faulkners are the proprietors of the traveling Oakley merchandising trailer that covers the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, and are an integral part of the family-centric experience of NHRA drag racing. Support throughout the community has been immense, and Evan Knoll, owner of Torco Racing Fuels and a father himself, sought to find a way to help his friends Donnie and Hollie. It was late one evening when Donnie Faulkner's phone rang, and on the other end was Knoll, asking, "Donnie, how can I help?"

With planning, the vision started to take shape, and the next call was to Mike Ashley who was chosen to drive the tribute car at the biggest race on the NHRA schedule - the Mac Tools US Nationals.

"There is no greater loss than to lose a child," Ashley said, "and it's truly an honor to be able to support this cause with our car at the US Nationals. When Evan approached me about this, his first thought was to give his sponsorship of the car at the US Nationals to help raise awareness and money for the foundation. He's such an incredible, caring man."

Knoll said, "It's just terrible, and I want to help. We're all drag racers, but we're people, too. I'll gladly give my sponsorship on Mike's car to help such an important cause. It's the least I can do, and I'm sure we'll raise a lot of awareness for the Foundation as well as a lot of money when the car goes to auction in Scottsdale."

In addition to Knoll, support for the project includes Ashley, who is donating a rolling chassis and coordinating the project; Jim Jannard, founder of Oakley and Red, a sponsor of Ashley's and longtime friend of the Faulkners; Chip Foose, the legendary auto designer who has directed the design and worked with Mark Adkins and the team at Illusions Custom Paint and Body of Bristol, Tenn. to create the one-of-a-kind paint scheme; Valspar, who has donated all the paint for the project; MOPAR, who has donated a 2007 Dodge Charger R/T body specifically for the project; Phoenix Custom Apparel; and MAC Tools, the title sponsor of the US Nationals, who has donated a complete rolling toolbox painted to match the original FOOSE design. Other contributors to the project include Phoenix Custom Apparel and Impact Racing Products.

After the car is run at the US Nationals, it is headed to the auction block at the world famous Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, to be held January 12-20, 2008 in Scottsdale, Ariz. The auction is known as for being a strong supporter of children's charities, raising $4.16 million for charity in 2006.

"Barrett-Jackson is pleased to be a part of the process and is looking forward to working with Mike Ashley and the Faulkners. We are presented with so many requests to help during our auctions, but this car rose to the top and tugged at our hearts. We really want to spotlight this car to help get the word out," said Gary Bennett, Barrett-Jackson's Senior Automotive Specialist.

Bennett said he is working to feature the car in the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company booth at the SEMA Show, Oct. 30 - Nov. 2 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Donnie Faulkner said, "I can't change what happened, but I can help others get through it. Hollie and I have made it our purpose to remember Eric and help other couples that suffer the way we have. It was the most terrible thing we ever went through, but both Hollie and I believe that everything happens for a reason. We don't understand it, but we can make something positive come out of it."

Faulkner said all donations and funds raised will go to support the St. Vincent Perinatal Bereavement Program in Little Rock, Ark. According to Faulkner, a new hospital is being built close to their home in Little Rock that will have a bereavement area separate from the standard delivery room area named after Eric Blake.

The Tribute car will be officially unveiled before Ashley's first qualifying run on Friday, August 31, and will be campaigned only at the Mac Tools US Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park just outside of Indianapolis, Ind.

For more information about the tribute car, visit Mike Ashley's racing website at , Torco Race Fuels Inc. at or Barrett-Jackson Auction Company at .


Lori said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing that story. It is so touching, and yet always heartbreaking to hear of the loss of another baby.

ima said...

AND...he won!!! Well with a car like that we all knew he would!

The Nanny said...

Wow. It's so sad about the baby, but what a wonderful things he's turned the situation into!

Brenda said...

So sad but what a wonderful thing to do. :)


Julia said...

It is great and touching to see how many people all came together to make this happen. I hope the car goes for big bucks at the auction.