Our first stop in D.C. was the National Press Club
Hi blog fans, time for another update! Once again LOTS of things going on around here so let me do my best to get you up to speed.
First of all let me express my deepest sympathy to my buddy Clay Millican and his wife Donna for the loss of their son, Dalton. Clay and I are in a club that neither one of us would have ever chosen to be in. I am sure that Dalton has a place in heaven with my boys and I’m sure that Jon and James were at heaven’s gate to greet him. God speed, Dalton.
Next, we have some really good news. Dr Friday at the University of North Carolina Charlotte completed the first part of a study that analyzed driving records of North Carolina teen drivers and specifically the comparison between teen drivers that have had B.R.A.K.E.S. training and those who have not and the results are nothing short of AMAZING! Teen drivers that have had B.R.A.K.E.S. training are 64.3 percent LESS likely to be involved in a car crash. Yes, that’s correct; according to Dr. Friday’s study, students that have attended B.R.A.K.E.S. are over 64 percentLESS likely to be involved in a car crash. I am pretty sure that Jon and James are smiling!
Mimi and I have been traveling around the country doing work for B.R.A.K.E.S.. First stop last week was in our nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C., for a visit to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Press Club for meetings and interviews. B.R.A.K.E.S. is now getting the attention of our friends in Washington. The visit was a great experience as I had the chance to talk to other bloggers from around the country about teen drivers and the importance of safe and repressible driving. The one thing that really made an impression on me is the sheer size of the U.S. government and all of the different branches, sections, units and departments. It is truly mind boggling!
Next stop was Nashville, Tenn., for the Governors Highway Safety Association annual meeting where they presented B.R.A.K.E.S. with the Peter O’Rourk award for helping to make our roads safer! How cool to be recognized by our governors for what we are doing at B.R.A.K.E.S.!
Lots of things coming up over the next couple weeks! Number one if you are coming to the Charlotte race the Sept. 18-20 weekend don’t miss our B.R.A.K.E.S. gala. Trust me it will be a great time and you will be supporting a great cause! Many of your favorite racers will be there and this will be a great chance to rub elbows.
Also, on Saturday morning of the ZMax race will be our annual “Hotrods and Hotcakes” breakfast. It’s always a fun event and what the heck if you are going to the races you have to eat breakfast anyways so you may as well come out a little early and enjoy a great breakfast with a bunch of our racer friends on the DSR, Matco tools pit hospitality area. Tickets are just $10.
After the ZMax race we will be running across the country training more teens how to be safer and more responsible behind the wheel of a car. Training weekends are open now for Orlando, Fla., Minneapolis Minnesota, Charlotte, N.C., Boston, Mass., Denver, Colo., Atlanta, Ga., Pomona, Calif.. and Raleigh, N.C.
My hero Darrell Gwynn is bringing his daughter to the B.R.A.K.E.S. school in Orlando and I am excited to see them!
Until next time, drive safe!
Getting ready to train some teen drivers
Hi Blog fans! It’s been a while since my last update and LOTS of things have been happening so let me try to get everyone up to speed.
First of all I would like to thank Tom Compton for his friendship and service as he retired from his position at the NHRA. I would also like to congratulate Peter Clifford on his new position as President of the NHRA! I love the sport of NHRA drag racing and I am excited about the new and exciting things that I see ahead.
We have been super busy training teen drivers at BRAKES. In fact so far this year we have already trained nearly 5,000 teens and their parents to be safer and more responsible behind the wheel of a car. Since we started BRAKES in 2008 we have trained nearly 17,000 teens plus parents. No one likes to drive fast more than me but the race track is the place to drive fast, not on the street. If you have a teen driver or know families with teen drivers please take a look at the BRAKES website; lots of great information and interesting videos are available. www.putonthebrakes.org
I have the chance to travel around the country to teach safe driving and during our latest visit to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona we had a chance to not only teach hundreds of teens safe and defensive driving we also had a chance for the LA County Fire Department to demonstrate the extraction of trapped occupants to everyone at the classes. KIA donates these cars to BRAKES and the local EMTs for the purpose of training them how to safely get someone that is trapped in a car after an accident out of the vehicle and to the hospital. If you have never seen one of these extraction exercises I urge you to find one being done and go check it out. Another fun thing that I got to do was ride in a hook and ladder fire truck! Seems funny but I had wanted to do this since I was a young boy, thanks to the LA County Fire Department for everything!
Hanging out with Mimi and my mom
After the Pomona classes Mimi and I joined my Mom for an incredible time at the Laguna Beach Art Festival and Pageant of the Masters. I must say the pageant was impressive! Basically they turn a huge stage into a LIVE picture of a famous painting, like a Norman Rockwell or the like. It is wild, they make it look exactly like the painting, you do not even know that it’s live and real until the people move! This is one thing I suggest seeing, even if you are not an art enthusiast this is something that I would suggest seeing.
One particularly funny thing happened while walking around the art festival, Mimi and my mom were tired of hauling their heavy purses so me being the nice guy that I am offered to help so, I became a pack mule! No problem really but I still don't quite understand why a purse weighs so much, like seriously what they heck do they have that weighs so much? Anyway, my mom’s purse was a leopard style print and I guess that I must have looked pretty funny carrying around two purses! This guy came up to me and told me that I must be tough to be carrying two purses and not be worried about what anyone thought about it, ha-ha-ha! He had his own leopard print clothes on so of course I asked if he would mind taking a picture with me, he was happy to! I still laugh every time I look at the picture.
While in Southern California I did a interview about teen safe driving with the Korean times newspaper. The guys doing the interview were a little hard to understand but one thing that was apparent was that they care about teen drivers. I wish I could read the article but I have not gotten up to speed on my Korean language...
Mopar Mile-High Nationals Grand Marshal
Now for current events …
Last weekend I was very honored to be named the Grand Marshall for the NHRA Mopar Mile High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway! BRAKES has been working with Mopar and they decided that we are going to have classes in Denver in October, so we are excited about that having BRAKES classes with Mopar in Denver at Bandimere speedway.
On Thursday before the event I joined all my buddies for the Mopar block party. I was impressed with the event! They actually close down the entire city of Golden and have a pre-race party, It was a great time!
On Friday Mimi and I hooked up with my old Snap-on buddies Bob & Terry Purvis and Todd Haner for a Harley ride. The Denver area is a GREAT place to ride and the scenery in Colorado is incredible!
On Saturday and Sunday I got to spend some time at the race track. It was great to be at the track and really great to be able to visit with all my racing buddies.
On Sunday I was able to walk out on the stage as the Grand Marshall, how cool! Huge thanks to the NHRA and Mopar for their dedication to teen safe driving!
Keep in mind that if you are coming to Charlotte and ZMax Dragway for the drag races the weekend of September 19th and 20th you may want to come in early and join us for the 8th annual BRAKES gala. It will be sure to be a great time and a opportunity to mingle with some of your favorite racers! This year’s Emcees will be Jeff Hammond and John Roberts and they are a super pair and very entertaining!
I am still working on good news and trying to find a way to get back to the racetrack soon, soo stay tuned!
Everyone in the BRAKES office packing up goody bags for the golfers
Hi blog fans. It’s been a busy past few weeks!
Our season for BRAKES schools is really getting ramped up. So far this year we have already trained over 1,000 teens, by the end of the year BRAKES will have trained over 5,000 teens this year and over 20,000 since we started in 2008 after Jon and James’ accident. This year we have added new school locations in Detroit, Boston, and San Francisco. If you have a teen driver, or even if you just know a teen driver please get them to attend a brakes driving program, not only will they learn about driving it will be fun too!
The races here at my hometown track, ZMax Dragway last weekend really kept us busy. On Thursday before the race we had our annual BRAKES golf tournament and on Saturday we had our Pancake Breakfast at the track.
This year’s golf tournament was really one to remember! Along with my NHRA drag racing buddies Allen Johnson, Steve Johnson, Matt Hagan, Clay Millican, Ron Capps, Mike Neff, Leah Pritchett, Larry Dixon and Angelle Sampey, we were also joined by my friend and racing legend Shirley Muldowney, NASCAR legend Junior Johnson and last weekend’s NASCAR winner, Denny Hamlin. What a fun day! Huge thanks to everyone that supported the event, we raised enough support to train several hundred more teens behind the wheel with BRAKES.
My golf team was pretty darn good! Jon Oberhofer from Kalitta’s team, Dylan Kwasniewski from Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates Racing and our superstar golfer Stephanie Rivera, whose husband is Ron Rivera from the NFL.
One of the absolute coolest things was a huge golf ball rifle! Everyone enjoyed taking shots with it; it actually shot the ball almost 400 yards. I think I need to carry one of these in my golf bag!
The track was wet on Friday...
Even Jessie likes coming out the track and watching the Four-Wide Nationals. I was happy to have her join me! Throughout the weekend I was able to join Alan Reinhart during the Top Fuel and Funny Car sessions. Talking about nitro cars is one thing that I really like!
In other sports news, Mimi and I took in some fun professional sports games here in Charlotte over the past month. Mimi has turned me into quite a sports fanatic going to baseball, basketball, hockey and football. Living here in Charlotte, N.C., we sure have plenty of fun things to do and now that the weather is good I'm sure looking forward to more good times outside.
Another thing that Mimi and I have been doing lots of is attending charity events around Charlotte. This past weekend we were able to attend the Navy SEALs Family foundation Gala. The list of speakers was impressive, Navy SEALs and even the former head of the CIA. The best thing is they raised lots of money for the Navy SEAL families that need help. On Sunday of the ZMax race I was able to take former Navy SEAL John Galt to the races with me. I thought I was a big guy, but John makes me look small. I would not want to be the one to meet him in a dark alley!
I have had a couple potential sponsor meetings with companies that could support a return to NHRA Top Fuel racing and also getting the land speed race car running. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Until next time …
It's been a while since my last blog update so let me do my best to try and get you caught up, lots of changes!
First of all the B.R.A.K.E.S. teen driver charity is doing incredibly well! Since starting the program in 2008 after losing Jon and James B.R.A.K.E.S. has trained more than 15,000 teens in advanced behind the wheel defensive accident avoidance training.
In addition to training teens we have done quite a bit of work building awareness about the problem of teen driver accidents. Before my boys accident I did not realize that auto accidents are the number one killer of teens, between 5,000-6,000 teens are lost each year and another 500,000 are sent to the emergency room with life threatening injuries.
The big thing that I get asked about all the time is when I will be back in a Top Fuel dragster. The answer is easy: I am ready to go! There is nothing in the world that I love more than racing a NHRA Top Fuel dragster, so hopefully one of these sponsors that we have been working on will pull the trigger and help us get a race team back on the track and the sooner the better!
I have been to some incredible places and events over the past several months so let me catch you up on some of these.
Early last year my personal and business life had some changes but things are really getting to a great place now! Thanks to all my friends and family for the help and support.
My sister, her husband Mike, the kids and me at Mike's change of command ceremony
Many of you that have been following me for years know that my sister is a JAG officer in the Army. Well, last summer her husband, Mike Binetti, was promoted to commander of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, the U.S. Army base just outside of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii! What a BIG DEAL! So, being the nice brother/brother in law that I am, I agreed to join them for the change in command ceremony. It was INCREDIBLE. I would guess that at least a 1,000 soldiers there in full uniform, not to mention a full marching band. So me, being the idiot that I am, asked my sister, "So sis, this is a big deal how many guys are being promoted today?" She looked at me in shock and said "Doug, you idiot, this is just for Mike. He's a big deal!" I was like, oh WOW, how could I be so stupid! Anyways, it was very cool and I was honored to be there!
So many of my great NHRA friends have been huge supporters to the B.R.A.K.E.S. charity and for that I am super grateful! These friends have supported me and B.R.A.K.ES. through some tough times. Everyone is busy but for them to take time from their busy schedule to join us at a B.R.A.K.E.S. event means A LOT! Super big thank you to all of them. I have included a bunch of pictures from these events, they are great fun and I would invite everyone to come join us. We always post upcoming events to the www.putonthebrakes.com web site or follow on my Facebook or twitter pages to keep up to date.
One of the other very cool things I have been doing is a weekly radio show called "The Straight Line" on MRN Radio. MRN is actually owned by NASCAR so the fact that they have a weekly radio show that covers NHRA Drag Racing is pretty darn cool! Tune in to listen on Wednesdays at Noon Eastern time or if you can’t tune in then you can just go to iHeart radio or Stitcher to download a podcast of the broadcast.
Lunch at the National Press Club
Last fall, Mimi, Matt from B.R.A.K.E.S. and I made a trip up to Washington D.C. with our friends from KIA to talk with Congress and House folks about B.R.A.K.E.S. and the teen-driving issues that we have here in the U.S. We had some great meetings and even got to have lunch at the National Press Club in Washington. I have only been to Washington a couple times and I was amazed at everything there is to see. If you ever have a chance, do NOT miss taking some time to visit our nation’s capital!
Last month we started the 2015 B.R.A.K.E.S. classes and in addition to the monthly training programs that we hold here in Charlotte at the ZMAX Dragway we are also having schools in Pomona, Raleigh, New England, San Francisco, and more new locations that will be announced soon.
This month will be a busy month! In addition to B.R.A.K.E.S. schools we have our 7th annual golf tournament coming up on Thursday March 26 and also a pancake breakfast at ZMAX Dragway on Saturday morning March 28 in the Don Schumacher Racing hospitality area in the pits during theFour-Wide race. If you are a golf player or even if you just like to eat some pancakes come join us for some fun!
Check back again soon and I will try to do a better job keeping this blog updated!