The 903 Mafia Race team returns next Friday and Saturday to the Buffalo Creek Speedway in Canton for the second annual Race for Autism.
Tammy Williams and her son, race car driver Dylan Beasley, both of Frankston, and their racing family are hosting this event in an effort to raise money and bring community awareness to autism.
Williams’s grandson, Marshall Shaun Hunter Stockton, and Dylan’s brother Matthew are their inspiration in hosting this event.
“Dylan and his team have a real passion for autism and their goal is to race for autism in all their races,” Williams said. “The 903 Mafia currently has four cars on the ground and will soon have five.”
The Race for Autism, set for August 27 and 28, merges two completely disparate worlds.
“Racing is loud and typically the lifestyle of families with someone with autism is quite, due to sensory issues and overstimulation,” Williams said. “We want to merge both worlds in a safe and exciting way for these families and people that love racing.”
This year they will hold a qualifying race at 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27. Gates open at 5 p.m. A silent auction, to be held both nights, will begin Friday.
Race classes include Limited Modifies with a purse of $1,500, Factory Stock with a purse of $1,000, Texas Stock with a purse of $600, ECO Mods with a purse of $500 and Tuners with a purse of $500.
Saturday’s activities will begin at 5 p.m. and the race will follow at 8 p.m.
Family fun during the event will include inflatables, barrel train rides, face painting, Dunk the Driver and car crawl.
Dunk the Driver participants include Beasley, Dakota Elliott, Alex Bates, Alan Lindow, Matt Ryan, Zach Thorpe, Justin Mitchell, Dennis Kent, Brandy Cockrum, Ron Willardson, Bedrick Thomas and Corey Cockrum.
Car Crawl drivers will include Beasley, Dakota Elliot, Jay Black, Zach Thorpe, Jess Vess, Dennis Kent, Damon Jarvis, Johnathan Chatterly, Alex Bates, Ron Willardson, Brandy Cockrum, Jason Chatterly, John Harris, Alan Lindow (Mighty Mouse), Matt Ryan (Ol’ Checker), David Hill, Derek Miller, Matt Deaver, Tracey Cundieff, Daniel Thompson, Joseph Smith and Colton Littlejohn.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids. Senior citizens, military and children 5 and under are free of charge. Pit passes are $40 for adults, $15 for kids 6 to 12 years of age and free for children 5 years of age and under.
There are also five sponsorship levels that come with special perks including tickets, pit passes and special race event advertising.
Proceeds from this event will benefit Elijah’s Retreat.
Located in Jacksonville, Elijah’s Retreat provides families facing autism a safe place to vacation and unwind.
“Not everyone understands why children with autism have complete meltdowns in the middle of a store and you don’t discipline them or take them out of the store,” Williams said. “At Elijah’s Retreat the staff and other visitors understand and support each other while the children are allowed to completely immerse themselves in a fun and safe environment, geared just for them, where they can completely be themselves.”
Williams hopes with the proceeds Elijah’s Retreat can build more cabins that will allow for more families with autism to enjoy the amenities and sanctuary. They also hope to build a one-acre playground. With the proceeds from last year’s events, they were able to build a new cabin, giving the facility a total of four.
“With that one new cabin they can host another 80 families a year,” Williams said. “They are having to turn away around 200 families a year, so our biggest goal is to build more so they don’t have to turn anyone away.”
Elijah's Retreat is a peaceful setting in the country with a few horses in the fields, a playground for the kids, a stocked pond to fish, and two bedroom cabins with full kitchens. There are lots of activities to pick from, including hayrides, hikes, fishing, feeding animals, movies in barn, games like ping pong and foosball and horseback riding.
In January they began a new program to help young men and women with autism learn to live on their own—including things like taking care of their homes, grocery shopping and various skills to make it in the world. They also offer internships at the facility.
This is a rain or shine event.
For more information, log onto http://autism.txanracing.com.