A. P. J. Abdul Kalam said, “Let us sacrifice our today so that our children can have a better tomorrow.”
That sentiment of love and giving children a chance at life is what propelled Mr. Bruton Smith, executive chairman of SMI and Sonic Automotive, to start Speedway Children's Charities in 1982.
The national nonprofit provides funding to charitable organizations throughout the country that meet the direct needs of children. With the vision of every child having the same opportunity no matter what obstacles they face, Speedway Children's Charities has distributed more than $52 million dollars to see that kids in need have the tools to build a better, brighter and healthy future. In 2017, Speedway Children's Charities distributed more than $3 million dollars to 435 charitable organizations.
A premier fundraiser for Speedway Children’s Charities was its annual gala held at the Ritz Carlton in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 23, 2018. With more than 500 attendees, the black-tie affair was a who’s who of NASCAR including drivers, team owners, industry celebrities and more.
During the celebration, Speedway Children’s Charities honors a notable figure in the sport who has made a distinct contribution. Past honorees include Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson. The 2018 honoree was none other than Rick Hendrick, Hall of Fame inductee and ambassador of the sport.
In recent years, the gala has lured national performers such as the Avett Brothers and Darius Rucker. This year, Midland, an up-and-coming country group performed. Their debut No. 1 single “Drinkin’ Problem,” which offers an intentional nod to Country music reminiscent of the 1970s and 80s, earned the band their first GRAMMY® Awards nominations for Best Country Song and Best Country Duo/Group Performance.
As a committed Speedway Children’s Charities board member, Jay Howard and CSM Production have been involved with the annual gala for more than 5 years providing event design, custom signage, audio, video and lighting.