It was a day of records for Racing For Kids®, as all nine of the Andretti Autosport drivers, who are racing this weekend in the Grand Prix of Baltimore, spent nearly two hours with 250 youngsters at Kennedy Krieger Institute.
The Racing For Kids records set:
1. Most drivers in one visit — 9;
2. Most drivers from one team in one visit — 9
3. Most kids visited in one program – 250
In May, Andretti Autosport named Racing For Kids and Kennedy Krieger Institute the Official Charity of The Grand Prix of Baltimore. So the top contending IZOD IndyCar Series team was all in sending its entire roster of drivers and a host of team executives and staffers to the event, which was held at a playground on one of the Institute’s East Baltimore campuses. Andretti Autosport and Racing For Kids show cars added the proper embellishment to the exciting atmosphere surrounding the Thursday, August 30 program.
Making the visit from Andretti Autosport were: IndyCar drivers, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay, currently second in series points race; Indy Lights drivers: Carlos Munoz and Sebastian Saavedra; Star Mazda drivers: Sage Karam and Zach Veach; and USF 2000 drivers: Shelby Blackstock and Thomas McGregor.
Kennedy Krieger specializes in caring for children with special needs such as autism, cerebral palsy, and brain injury. In Maryland it has ten locations, which include medical and rehabilitation facilities and four schools.
The drivers were welcomed by a giant banner: “Start Your Engines. Good Luck From The Kennedy Krieger Children and Families!”, which was hanging at the playground.
Kennedy Krieger staff organized the program into four shifts with each group eagerly rushing out to inspect the showcars, talk with the drivers and get driver autographs, hero cards, Racing For Kids red and yellow baseball caps and scale model Dodge Viper cars donated by SRT, the presenting sponsor of this year’s Grand Prix of Baltimore.
Several youngsters had parents with them to share in the excitement, further enhanced by the arrival of local TV stations, which later broadcast the day’s activities.
In between the groups, the Andretti drivers huddled to discuss technique and set up for the Baltimore street course, a “very physical track,” as Marco Andretti describes it.
More than one parent spoke for other parents and Kennedy Krieger staffers when approached the drivers and commented: “This is wonderful what you do.” The drivers’ responses echoed Racing For Kids veteran Hunter-Reay who said : ”We feel very privileged to be able to do this.”
As the last group prepared to return to rehabilitation and classes, a number of youngsters handed notes and drawings of appreciation to Hinchcliffe, while another group stopped to deliver a heartfelt “Thank You” chant. They too were eager to record their appreciation on this Racing For Kids record setting day.