Racing for a Cause
World of Speed’s Art Pollard Day was on May 4. A celebrated Indy racer, Oregon’s own Art Pollard was also known for his work with children with special needs.
Inspired by this, for the entire month of May, the World of Speed Archive displayed examples from the collection that show the many ways motorsports intersect with causes for the greater good—from large fundraisers for children’s hospitals to support for a community’s high school wrestling team.
To start us off, Art Pollard spoke at an Easterseals Crossroads event in Indianapolis, IN in the 1970s. Easterseals Crossroads began in 1936 with social groups for children with disabilities and continues the work today with many programs and services for children and adults.
Closer to home, these posters from the 1960s were benefits for charities in Southern Oregon and in Portland. The Sunshine Division of the Portland Police Bureau has provided emergency food and clothing relief for Portland families since 1922.
This Tigard Festival of Cars poster is a more recent example. The Mustang Wranglers of Oregon presented the cruise-in event. It benefited the Raphael House, an emergency shelter for women and children to aid domestic violence survivors.
Local car clubs are frequent sponsors of cruise-in events to support community resources like high school sports or children’s healthcare. Dash plaques in our collection show variety of causes.
Funding to fight Multiple Sclerosis (MS) was the goal of this race at Portland International Raceway. And with the help of additional sponsors, promoters and organizers from the Cascade Sports Car Club to Burger King, these races brought in funds for great causes.
Children’s healthcare is a common theme that pops up in our collection, like in these flags that highlight benefits to children’s hospitals. The Doernbecher Children’s Hospital was the first full-service children’s hospital in the Pacific Northwest. Shriners Hospitals for Children have many locations in North America, including one in Portland.
A double amputee, motorcycle racer Reggie Showers raised funds and did motivational speaking for Shriners Hospitals for Children through the organization, Helping Hands Across America. The back of his fan card describes Showers’ unique story.
The following posters are for events that raised money for the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Programs for these events are available in the World of Speed Archive, where you can learn about the history of these fundraising efforts or read inspirational profiles on child patients.
In the early 1990s, Indy Lights racer Robbie Buhl was a spokesman for the Racing for Kids program. Founded in Detroit, MI in 1989, the program continues to raise awareness and funding for the healthcare needs of children through hospital visits by motorsports heroes. Here is a photo of Buhl with Racing for Kids prominently displayed on his race suit. Robbie Buhl is also the subject of this original artwork by Don Evenson. Both items were signed by Buhl for the lender, Michael Longacre, who in 1991 was a representative for Hoechst Roussel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. which coincided with his work for Racing for Kids’ sponsors program.
Ronald McDonald Children’s Charity was designated the National Hot Rod Association’s official charity in the 1990s. In 1992, Ed McCulloch participated in the NHRA’s Winston Drag Racing Series with Larry Minor Motorsports, sponsored by McDonalds. The logo for the Ronald McDonald Children’s Charity is featured alongside McCulloch’s name on this button-down shirt.
Speaking of charitable clowns…in the late 1980s Michael Guido created the persona of The World’s Fastest Clown and participated in a national drug prevention campaign that combined two distinct talents. In full costume, Guido raced in IMSA events and visited elementary schools to entertain children with magic and tours of his Just Say No! race car.
The clown competed in the Firestone Firehawk Endurance Championship Series race at Portland International Raceway in 1992. A complete media packet with multiple press releases, a poster, photographs, and a coloring book is available in the World of Speed Archive.
Seven decades of motorsports and charitable causes were on display in the World of Speed Archive room during the month of May. One of our earliest examples is this 1957 program for the first Cotati Sports Car Races, which raised money for the Hanna Boys Center in Northern California. Motorsports has enjoyed a long tradition of supporting such causes, and will likely continue for the foreseeable future.