RACE FOR RILEY - Kevin Lee Wins, But the Kids Get the Money!

Larry Clarino, 11, leads, Calabro, 6, Furst, 29, and Jarett Andretti, 18, around the scoreboard turn. Photo by Ron McQueeney

NEW CASTLE, INDIANA - RIS - FRIDAY, JULY 21, 2017 - The 21st running of John Andretti’s Race for Riley go kart event for the benefit of the Riley Children’s Hospital took place this past Tuesday at the world famous New Castle Motor Sports.

Thanks to some wonderful sponsors, Kroger, Cheerio’s, Window World, J.D.Buyrider, Republic National Distributing, Bacardi, and Qtego, this year more than $500,000 was raised for the kids at Riley.

The highlight for this reporter every year, is not the feature race, but the media race. Now, I have to explain, I love karting, I own a TaG kart (that is a very fast beast, indeed), I am 68 years old, and “maybe” a little over weight, so I was giving away more than a few pounds to my much thiner and younger, fellow competitors. Oh, yeah, and I am literally old enough to be their father and in a couple of cases, their grandfather!

Now, the competition, in the past John Andretti would be giving all of us a driving clinic, but as I am sure you know, John has stage four colon cancer.

One of the nicest people in all of motorsports, Andretti is in a battle for his life. He looks good and feels well, after having undergone chemo therapy and a surgery, he will be starting another round of chemo in the next few weeks.

He tells everyone, “When you get to 50, get a colonoscopy. I’d say, ‘I should do this,’ and then no one would schedule it. And then I’d forget about it until next year. That kept happening. If I had waited another year… well, fortunately I did go in this year because certainly next year would have been a lot worse.”

John was initially diagnosed with Stage 3A colon cancer but, it evolved to Stage 4A as the cancer spread to his liver and his spleen. He is a fighter, his motto in this, is “In It To Win It.” We sure hope he will, so please think about John and about getting yourself checked. We can tell you from experience it is really no big deal to get a colonoscopy, the prep is worse than the procedure.

For this year, John’s roll as pro racer, was taken by his 25 year old son Jarett, a budding midget and sprint car driver.

The day includes several races for sponsors, the media, and elimination races for the feature event with all funds raised going to the charity. The media race has become, by far the most entertaining with some really good drivers and really spirited racing. Karts this year were provided by Endurance Karting, they were four cycle (slow), heavy, poor handling, but fun to drive monsters.

Well, about the race — Kevin Lee from NBCSN, Dave Furst, Sports Director at WRTV-6 (ABC) in Indy, Dave Calabro, WTHR NBC Indy Sports Director, in Indy, and yours truly made up the top of the field. Oh yeah, Jarett was there too.

This group of very serious racers was augmented by six other earnest if not overly talented racers.

After a 10 minute practice/qualifying session the line up was set with Kevin Lee on pole, followed by Furst, Calabro, and me, .8 seconds off the leader for the one mile track. We were THAT close. Jarett would start last as he is the pro.

The race turned into a total barn burner, with gang of four plus the Pro, trading positions several times a lap. About 4 laps in I had the lead, Calabro, nudged (well, let’s say a BIG nudge) around me, as we approached the scoreboard turn, a sharp right. At turn-in, a not so well mounted, Go-Pro camera on Calbro’s kart went flying distracting him and letting me setup an awesome pass, if I do say so myself, to regain the point! The old, fat guy was in the lead!

It went on like that lap after lap to the checker, with Kevin Lee winning, followed by Furst, your reporter in third, and Calabro in fourth.

“We got ‘em on the turns but we gave up too much on the long straights,” I pronounced, as all racers should always have their excuses at the ready.

After the race John Andretti, came up to me and said, “What a great race, Man, you guys put on a real show.” An unforgettable comment from one of my racing heroes.

Simply a great day, a fun race and we made a pile of money for the kids.

Can’t wait until next year!

To Donate:

 The Riley Children’s Foundation
    30 South Meridian Street, Suite 200
    Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-3507

Make checks payable to the Riley CHildren's Foundation, and on the memo line please write "Race for Riley"

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Volume 2017, Issue 7, Posted 4:03 PM, 07.21.2017