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a great success!

by BILL ADAM/ pictures by Pepe Forte, editor and Automania WQBA 1140 Univision Radio host.

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Posted on Nov. 30/2009

As I sit here on Sunday, thinking back 24 hours to our Rides N Smiles event, I have a huge smile on my face and this nice warm feeling in my heart. To say the event was another success, would be a huge understatement, but it is almost impossible to tell the story of the magic created by everyone involved. There were so many outstanding efforts, so many generous gifts of both time and money, so many dazzling cars, that the day just had to be experienced in person to appreciate it all. To start, we must first acknowledge the generosity of the people at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, because without a venue such as this, we simply couldn’t hold our event. Having the safety of a controlled environment, where only screened drivers are on the roadway, gives a huge sense of safety to the parents who are entrusting us with the most precious parts of their lives.

Add to that the thrill for the children of actually riding on a banked race track, and the package is priceless! But, they go over and above by having a photographer there, taking pictures of each child in one of their dream cars, then printing the pictures for us to hand out at our lunch break – the lunch and drinks ALSO generously supplied by them. Finally, they also create beautiful individual diplomas, welcoming each youngster to the Homestead Miami Speedway 100 MPH Banking Club. Al, Hope and Natalie, we’re so lucky to work with you!
Again this year, our manufacturers were very kind to supply the vehicles they could. Unfortunately, there were some last minute problems with some, and it looked like we wouldn’t have a couple of the more exotic cars (and more on this in a moment ), but a special thanks has to go out to Lisa Barrow at Chrysler. We are all aware of the ongoing problems faced by Chrysler, but they weren’t large enough to stop Lisa from sending down both a stunning red Viper convertible, along with a VERY popular Dodge Challenger. The looks AND sounds of both cars meant that they were constantly faced with long lines of young admirers, and the looks in their eyes told volumes of their excitement of their rides. When I was confronted with the disappointment of learning that three very hot cars wouldn’t be making our day, I turned to a few friends up in the Fort Lauderdale area, and what friends they turned out to be. Bringing down his beautiful new bright yellow ZR-1 Corvette, was Tom Gonzales . Not content to just be a passive participant, Tom gave one young rider one of the hottest launches of the day, and without question won the “Biggest Tire Smoking Burnout” award of the day. Parents, children, spectators, other drivers in line, we all loved it!
Preston Henn, owner of the T-Bird Swap Shop in Fort Lauderdale, brought down his brand new white Nissan GTR – a car that every child there wanted a ride in. This quiet rocket was well driven by the veteran racer, and at the end of the day, he asked if he might be invited back again next year, as he’d had such a rewarding time. Yes, Preston , every year from now on! And finally, my dear friend Bill Scherer. Bill is senior partner in his own law firm, one of the largest and most successful in Fort Lauderdale, and as you might imagine, doesn’t get a great deal of time to relax at this busy time of year. Not only did he give up one of his precious days off, but he supplied me with his outrageous orange Porsche GT3RS, he drove down his incredible 730 HP white Ford GT, and he had his mechanic Dave Boyer, drive down his Ferrari F430 Stradale. Talk about a contribution! The Ford GT, was without any question, the hit of the day. Both from the stunning beauty of the car, and also from the sound. Ahh, the sound! As Bill would leave the start area, he would feed in throttle and those poor tortured rear tires would just give up the ghost and they changed composition from rubber to smoke. Last year, we thought the F-16’s flying overhead were loud, but they had nothing on the monster hiding under the hatch of this beauty. Bill, stayed on track for the full day, never tiring, and giving, giving, giving. All three cars were spectacular, and we can’t thank him enough for his kindness and friendship!

And finally, to our members who turned out to help – you were the best! I have never seen more smiles – both from you AND the people you were guiding – and it made the day! Your selfless generosity and tireless efforts made this event special. I have never seen so much personal attention given to children and parents alike, and it showed. EVERYONE was happy, smiling, laughing, enjoying this wonderful day. In closing, I’m left with a wonderful memory that will stay with me for a long, long time. I had just taken this beautiful little 7-year-old girl for her ride in the Porsche GT3RS. Her long curly brown hair and sparkling eyes gave no hint that she had been diagnosed with leukemia, and she laughed for almost the entire two laps. The fact that she was so tiny, that she couldn’t see over the dashboard meant nothing, and the laughter made the laps all too fast. When I stopped in pit lane to let her scramble out, her father came over to my window, with somewhat misty eyes, and in broken English thanked me three, four five times as he pumped my hand. All the effort that all of us put into this day, was suddenly worth it! My very sincere THANK YOU to all who helped!

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