Homestead-Miami Speedway Shifts into Holiday, Charitable Spirit; Raises Nearly $20,000

HMS at PATCHES in Florida City

Homestead-Miami Speedway Community Relations Manager Nathalie Salas (left) delivers a CD to a child at PATCHES in Florida City as Mrs. Speedway Santa Claus looks on


Just prior to Christmas, Homestead-Miami Speedway hit the road to spread some holiday cheer to children in Homestead and Florida City, with Speedway staff delivering gifts to South Florida children in what has become an annual holiday-season tradition for track representatives.

The first stop was PATCHES medical center in Florida City, a state-licensed, non-profit facility staffed by pediatric nurses, certified teachers, and respiratory and rehab therapists who provide daily treatment to children with extreme medical needs, as well as education for care-giving parents. Treating children from birth through age 21, PATCHES is an alternative to in-patient hospital care and more-isolated home care.

In advance of the visit, PATCHES provided Homestead-Miami Speedway staffers a list of the children’s names and ages so Speedway employees could personalize the holiday gifts purchased for the event. The Speedway’s Mrs. Claus and her “elves” then distributed the gifts in personalized roll-call fashion that had the children anxiously awaiting their turn for a visit with Mrs. Claus.
“Many of our kids are forgotten at this time of year,” said PATCHES CEO Kyle Smith. “Homestead-Miami Speedway providing gifts to these children is truly a blessing. It is amazing that an organization of that size would think enough of the work we do to donate the time and money for our deserving children.”

Pit stop No. 2 on the Homestead-Miami holiday shuttle was Homestead Hospital, where Speedway staffers made the rounds of each occupied room in the “Speediatrics” children’s ER unit to present patients with gifts tailored to age and gender. Cheerful motorsports décor at Speediatrics—in the form of checkered flags, race cars and cartoon characters Curves, Traxx, Six-Speed and Clutch—helps ease the hospital experience for thousands of youth patients’ visits each year.

“Being sick around the holidays is hard for anyone—especially for young children and their families,” said Gail Gordon, R.N., chief nursing officer and VP at Homestead Hospital. “We are grateful for our community partners like Homestead-Miami Speedway that take the time to share holiday cheer with our patients during this time.”

Homestead Hospital is one of two hospitals in the country to boast Speediatrics, the Betty Jane France Children’s Emergency Room that is financially supported by Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR and community donations. Through these efforts, nearly $1 million has been raised for Speediatrics, the only dedicated pediatric unit in the southernmost region of Miami-Dade County.

“What a special invite it is to be welcomed by both Homestead Hospital and PATCHES,” said Matt Becherer, president of Homestead-Miami Speedway. “The medical staffs at these care facilities deserve all of the credit in the world for their year-round commitment to improving the health and livelihood of children experiencing challenging times. It is a remarkable effort to witness and truly humbling for our Speedway staff to be invited to spread a little joy to these children during the holiday season.”

The holiday visits to the South Florida children’s medical facilities came on the heels of Homestead-Miami Speedway hosting NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend 2010, during which the Speedway partnered with a bevy of well-known drivers and celebrities in its efforts to provide charitable support to the South Florida community and beyond. Through these efforts, the Homestead-Miami Speedway Foundation was able to raise nearly $20,000 to benefit an array of local, national and international charitable organizations. Among the personalities who met with fans in exclusive meet-and-greet opportunities throughout the weekend: Danica Patrick, Juan Pablo Montoya and Bubba the Love Sponge.

For a second straight year, Homestead-Miami Speedway joined philanthropic forces with NASCAR star/South Florida resident Montoya for “Race Day with Juan”—an exclusive meet-and-greet with proceeds to benefit Montoya’s Formula Smiles Foundation.

Danica Patrick—who raced twice at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2010 (IndyCar and NASCAR)—hosted a fan Q&A event before Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford 300—an event to help the Homestead-Miami Speedway Foundation.

The Speedway also partnered with renowned radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge to create the “Bubba’s Army Ford Championship Weekend” ticket package, featuring an exclusive meet-and-greet opportunity with the talk-show host extraordinaire to benefit the Petty’s Victory Junction Gang Camp. Bubba also delivered a live national broadcast with drivers from the Speedway’s infield.

And continuing its effort to support community causes throughout South Florida, Homestead-Miami Speedway and motorcycle enthusiasts teamed up to raise funds for the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“We receive so much support from the community year after year,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matt Becherer. “And these exclusive opportunities with our celebrity partners are a heck of a fun way to raise some funds to help others in kind.”

Next up on the racing front for Homestead-Miami Speedway is the GRAND-AM Rolex Racing Sports Car Series returning to South Florida’s 2.3-mile road course. Homestead-Miami Speedway continues its rich history of sports car racing in 2011 with the Grand Prix of Miami set for March 4-5, and featuring the Daytona Prototypes and Grand Touring classes in Race 2 of the 2011 GRAND-AM campaign.

All kids 12 & under are admitted FREE, and each ticket includes a FREE paddock pass. For information on this and more than 280 events held each year at Homestead-Miami Speedway, visit or call (866) 409-RACE.

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