Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, and A.J. Allmendinger have no idea what’s in store for them on the track tomorrow.
When these top NASCAR drivers strap in their go karts on Tuesday to run in “The King’s Cup – Karting for a Cause,” Richard Petty’s annual event helping the Paralyzed Veterans of America, they’ll be going up against a group of fans featured in The Weekend Starts on Wednesday: True Stories of Remarkable NASCAR Fans.
Steve Deuker (“Ryan’s Hope”), Natalie Sather (“This Girl Wants to Be Jeff Gordon in a Skirt”), Kenny Gregory (“The Fathead Guy”), and Judy Barr (“The Summit of Fandom”) will be racing for the team, “The Weekend Starts on Wednesday Chapter Buddies." They’ll go up against the NASCAR drivers and 30 other teams vying for the King’s Cup” at Victory Lane Karting in Charlotte.
“The Weekend Starts on Wednesday features two wounded veterans – Cpl. John Hyland and Sgt. Russ Friedman – so we wanted to honor the Paralyzed Veterans of America and have a little fun racing,” said Steve Deuker, who organized the Chapter Buddies team.
Deuker, a lifelong racing fan who traveled to Charlotte from Minneapolis with his wife Christine to attend the NASCAR Hall of induction ceremonies, watch the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and run in the King’s Cup, is pumped up after running 50 laps in a stock car at Carolina Speedway’s Dirt Track Racing School in Gastonia.
“What I like about this event is you can run against NASCAR drivers and other fans,” Deuker said. “NASCAR fandom is made up of such diverse occupations and lifestyles. Being in this book, we’ve formed lifelong bonds with other remarkable fans, including two military heroes. It’s going to be unforgettable racing with them while helping wounded warriors.”
Deuker likes his chances for fielding a competitive team, even with the varying experience of his drivers.
Kenny Gregory, known to fans as “The Fathead Guy,” for bringing life-size, driver stand-ups into the infield, has participated in two kart races in Pennsylvania. However, he finished last both times. “They used a sun dial to time me,” Gregory said.
To make up lap time, Deuker is looking to Natalie Sather, who won a national go kart title, and was the first woman to win a major sprint car championship, taking the ASCS Midwest points championship in 2007. Sather currently drives the Lady Eagle Safety Wear, K&N, Bell Helmets #94 for Sellers Racing in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series.
Sather, who grew up racing go-karts on dirt, jumped at the chance to get back in a go-kart for a great cause – even with a broken wrist suffered April 17 at South Boston Speedway.
When she was 17, Sather was involved in a spectacular T-bone wreck in a sprint car which put a 10-inch pin into her leg. Eight years later, her wreck at South Boston wasn’t nearly as violent. But the spin happened so quickly, it managed to snap her wrist right off the wheel.
Sather pitted and then drove sixty more laps with one arm.
“The adrenaline was pumping and it was hard for me to think about my wrist,” the 25-year old driver from Fargo recalled. “I was hurt, mad and upset, and wasn't going to give up easy. When people found out my wrist was broken, they were shocked I kept going, and to be honest so was I,” she said with a laugh.
Following surgery three weeks ago, Sather had a special brace made. She’s dosing on bone-building vitamins and uses a bone-stimulating machine to close a 2-millimeter gap in her wrist. She’s raced two times since the operation.
“The King’s Cup is about having fun, raising money for the PVA, and some healthy competition,” Sather said. “Well, not too healthy, because anyone who knows me, knows I'm extremely competitive.”
The Weekend Starts on Wednesday author Andrew Giangola will be in New York and unable to drive for The Chapter Buddies (because he is in New York, not from New York).
“Me being in New York is beneficial for the team, because the only thing I drive is my wife crazy,” Giangola said.
To take his place, the book’s author recruited Michael Cherry, a driver with Revolution Racing in the Whelen All American Series, as well as a serious go kart ringer. Last Friday, Cherry beat NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse in the Aflac 200, a go kart event held by Aflac and NASCAR Fuel for Business, a consortium of B2B partners.
The King’s Cup takes place from 4:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Up to 30 teams will compete in the endurance karting event. The top 15 squads will qualify for the two-hour endurance feature race. NASCAR drivers sponsoring teams through their foundations include Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, and Elliott and Hermie Sadler.
Last year’s championship team, The Kurt Busch Foundation, will return to defend its title after The King gives the command to start the engines and waves the green flag.
“Our veterans have made it possible for us to do what we love,” said Petty, the long-time spokesperson of PVA, a 64-year old organization founded by spinal cord-injured service members who returned home from World War II. “This event is a great way to kick back and have some fun, and it’s a great way to give back to those who have given so much for our country.”
“Richard Petty is a great champion for our members and their families and we deeply appreciate all that he and his family do for us,” said Gene A. Crayton, national president of Paralyzed Veterans.
Tickets are available for $25 online at www.pva.org/gokart or at the event. All proceeds will benefit the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Sprint, Best Buy and Reynolds Consumer Products are among the sponsors of the event, and Freightliner is bringing several of their hauler drivers to participate as well.
A silent auction will include more than 70 items, such dinner with the King and autographed sports memorabilia, including a copy of The Weekend Starts on Wednesday, signed by the author and chapter buddies, along with Tony Stewart, who wrote the Foreword, and Kyle Busch, who penned the Afterword.
To learn more about The King’s Cup - Karting for a Cause, please visit www.pva.org/gokart.