The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is going pink this weekend during the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. NBCAM is a collaboration of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to services.
The center and sides of the starting line on the dragstrip have been painted pink, and plenty of pink-themed racers will rocket from the starting line throughout the weekend.
NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown will wear a pink firesuit and helmet and will be driving a pink car. Brown drives for Don Schumacher Racing, and the team has been touched by the disease. Ellen Tobler, wife of DSR Funny Car crew chief Rahn Tobler, is a breast cancer survivor, as is Brown’s mother-in-law, Linda Matranga. Matranga, whose daughter Billie Jo has been married to Brown for 12 years, had a routine mammogram in December 2007. A biopsy revealed a cancerous tumor that led to major surgery five months later followed by seven months of chemotherapy.
“The road to recovery is long, but I made it through. I’m a survivor,” said Matranga, who lives in Gheens, La.
“It was tough for her,” Brown said, “and we weren’t able to be down there in Louisiana to help her. You just have to pray and leave it in God’s hands. I can’t even fathom what it’s like for any woman to go through that kind of ordeal.”
Brown’s sponsor, Matco Tools, will donate 15 percent of the sale for each product purchased from a list of selected items with a guaranteed minimum donation of $100,000 to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization during October. Brown’s unique firesuit and helmet and the race team’s pink crew shirts will be auctioned on eBay in November, with all proceeds going to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Terry McMillen Racing’s dragster will be painted pink, and his crew will wear pink jerseys to be auctioned beginning Nov. 1 at terrymcmillen.com to raise money for She4Life, an organization that supports breast cancer patients and their families. McMillen also has allowed the public to put the name of a loved one on the car by making a $50 donation to She4life. More than 70 names are on the car, including that of breast cancer survivor Kari Neely. Neely manages human resources for LVMS.
All four Kalitta Motorsports cars – the Top Fuel dragsters of Doug Kalitta and David Grubnic and the Funny Cars of Jeff Arend and Alexis DeJoria – will carry breast cancer awareness decals.
Leah Pruett will drive a pink Pro Modified in the finale of the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx in Las Vegas. Pruett's powerful race car, nicknamed Mustang Sally, will sport two massive pink racing stripes, a pair of ribbons, and pink accents throughout the design to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's a cause very close to Pruett's heart.
“Two of my aunts have dealt with breast cancer; one survived and the other didn't, so this is something that has really hit our family hard,” Pruett said. “My fiancé's [Gary Pritchett] godmother is [drag racing legend] Bunny Burkett, and she's a survivor as well. Plus, our team owner, Roger Burgess, recently lost a close friend, Mike Nelson, to stomach cancer at the age of 32. That's why we'll have the breast cancer ribbon and the stomach cancer ribbon on the car.
“The design is really pretty. I think that car looked great before, but I might like this design even better. It's really eye-catching, and obviously, it means so much to us to help raise awareness for cancer research.”
Eddie Krawiec, a 19-time national event winner, will represent the Pro Stock Motorcycle class with a pink Harley-Davidson.
According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in 2012, it is estimated that among U.S. women, there will be 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer, and 39,510 women will lose the fight. Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world and has invested more than $2 billion in fulfilling its promise to end breast cancer forever.
For tickets for this weekend’s Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, log on to www.lvms.com, go to the LVMS ticket office, or call 702-644-4444. Follow LVMS on Facebook and Twitter.