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Wood Brothers Racing wins first quarter NMPA Pocono Spirit Award

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Wood Brothers Racing has won the first quarter National Motorsports Press Association Pocono Spirit Award for charitable work in helping seniors in and around its home base of Stuart, Virginia.

The organization spearheaded a campaign to provide COVID-19 quarantined seniors in nursing homes and assisted living facilities — including Landmark Center and the Blue Ridge Therapy Center in Stuart, and 10 other facilities in the region — with electronic tablets to allow residents to communicate with family members.

Starting with $1,500 in seed funding, Wood Brothers Racing began a crowdfunding effort that raised $33,000 from contributions of $10 or more. That funding paid for 220 tablets for residents in those 12 facilities. More than 1,100 individuals contributed to the fundraising effort.

“We were shocked at the response we got,” Wood Brothers Racing senior vice president Jon Wood said in a statement. “I think everyone has some connection with a senior and many of those are in facilities that are affected.

“What we didn’t anticipate was the huge number of people wanting to contribute, and it just shows that we aren’t all that divided in a time of crisis.

“It was extremely gratifying to hear the stories since, how this helped ease some of the anxiety and stress from both the residents and the families. These people did nothing wrong. They managed to do something right in fact, that being to live to an age where they needed help, and so it seemed unfair for them to be cut off from the very people that give them comfort.

“Unfair because they were being protected from something many of them didn’t understand or weren’t able to fully grasp and the way they were going about being protected only added to their fears and frustrations. This just helped alleviate some of that, so in every way I can think of, it was a total success.”

Others receiving votes were:

* The Joey Logano Foundation, which teamed with Bobbee O’s BBQ and Elevation Church to provide free meals to children under 18 years old over a two-week period.

* Steve Myers, executive vice president and executive producer of iRacing, for spearheading an effort to bring virtual racing competition to a national audience during the pandemic.

* General Motors, which ramped up its assembly lines to produce personal protective gear for front-line workers and ventilators for patients in critical need during the pandemic.

The Pocono Spirit Award is voted upon by NMPA membership.

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How NASCAR and racing community are helping during COVID-19 fight

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Given the emphasis on safety in racing, NASCAR and several other motorsports entities are increasingly pivoting to focus on safety in other areas to help out during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest emphasis is on personal protective equipment for health care workers as well as things such as respirators for those infected with coronavirus.

According to a report by The Associated Press, here are what several groups across NASCAR and other motorsports series are doing:

* NASCAR’s Research and Technology Center in Concord, North Carolina has shifted from building parts and working on the Next Gen car to producing face shields.

According to the AP report, NASCAR has a team of eight engineers volunteering their time to keep five 3D printers operating nearly 18 hours per day to produce protective face shields for health care workers. The largest printer is capable of producing three shields every 2 ½ hours.

“That’s the one we try to keep running almost nonstop,” Eric Jacuzzi, senior director of NASCAR’s aerodynamics and vehicle performance, told the AP. “You are sitting around watching the news and you think, ‘We just put this big, beautiful new machine in, let’s see what we can do and use it for something good.’”

NASCAR is donating all shields it produces to health care facilities and workers. It is also working with North Carolina State University as consultants to help hospitals with their own 3D printers to produce personal protective equipment, according to the AP report.

* Ford is embarking this week on a project to build as many as 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days, according to the AP. The company has also lent a team of engineers and is providing facilities and equipment to help 3M build respirators.

Todd Hoevener, Ford Director of Technology, Strategy and Planning, told SiriusXM NASCAR on the “Happy Hours” program Wednesday afternoon, “This week we are ramping up to be able to ship one million (face shields) by the end of the week.”

* Chevrolet’s parent company, General Motors, is working with Ventic Life Systems to produce more than 50,000 face masks daily, as well as is ramping up production to build 10,000 ventilators per month, according to the AP.

* Toyota is also producing face shields and working to manufacturer ventilators, as well, according to the AP.

* NASCAR Cup driver Brad Keselowski’s company, Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, is using 3D printers and CNC machines to build face shields.

* Roush Fenway Racing has donated 1.5 cases of N95 masks to Lake Norman Regional Medical Center and donated shields and safety glasses elsewhere. The team told the AP it is producing aerosol boxes that “protect medical professionals as they treat COVID-19 patients.” In addition, parent company Roush Industries is working on developing other personal protective equipment.

* Hendrick Motorsports has redirected some of its manufacturing resources to produce face shields for healthcare workers. Other NASCAR teams that have donated masks or other supplies include Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and JR Motorsports.

* IMSA team CORE Autosport told the AP it has produced and sold several thousand face masks for health care professionals.

* Technique Inc., which produces chassis kits for NASCAR teams, has repurposed its Jackson, Michigan factory – just a few miles from Michigan International Speedway – and expects to increase production to 20,000 face shields by the end of this week, according to the AP.

* The largest team in NHRA drag racing, Don Schumacher Racing, is using its two 3D printers non-stop to build headbands that attach to face shields, the AP reported.

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General Motors to open technical center in Charlotte area

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General Motors announced Thursday plans to open a new technical center dedicated to performance and racing in Concord, North Carolina.

With the Charlotte Technical Center, GM will join Toyota and Ford, NASCAR’s other two manufacturers in having a tech center in the Charlotte area.

Toyota’s facility is in Salisbury and Ford’s is in Concord. Chevrolet does have a simulator facility located in Huntersville.

GM’s 75,000-square-foot facility is expected to open in the middle of this year.

According to a press release, GM’s facility will focus on “transferring knowledge and resources from the racing programs to core vehicle engineering” and will eventually “house future technology and engineering development capabilities.”

“We’re thrilled to expand GM’s U.S. footprint by establishing a greater presence in Charlotte, a community that has become a racing and engineering mecca,” Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s U.S. vice president of performance and motorsports, said in the press release. “The new facility will be close to a number of key Chevrolet and Cadillac racing partners, teams and suppliers. This will allow for improved collaboration as well as access to some of the industry’s best talent.”

The facility will feature Driver-in-the-Loop simulators, vehicle simulation, aero development and other practices designed to advance racing and production capabilities.

In another area of development for Chevrolet, the 2020 class of the Drivers Edge Development program has been announced.

The program consists of driver who compete for GMS Racing and JR Motorsports.

This year’s six-member class includes returning members Sheldon Creed, Noah Gragson, Sam Mayer and Zane Smith – and the new additions of Tyler Ankrum and Connor Mosack.

Creed, Mayer, Ankrum and Smith will compete for GMS Racing in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series this season.

Creed, Ankrum and Smith will race full-time. Mayer, 16, will compete part-time. He made three starts last year while running in the ARCA Menards Series East where he won the championship.

This will be Sheldon Creed’s second full-time truck season with GMS Racing.

Ankrum, the 2019 rookie of the year, drove for DGR-Crosley last year when it was under the Toyota banner.

Smith competed part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series last year driving the No. 8 Chevrolet.

Gragson returns for a second full-time Xfinity season driving JRM’s No. 9 Chevrolet.

Mosack, 18, will race for JRM in a late model. In 2019, Mosack raced late models at Hickory Motor Speedway, finishing third in points and took top rookie honors. He earned seven top five and 25 top-10 finishes in 27 starts at the venue.