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Rotary racing raises money for charity

End Polio Now campaign

September 16, 2016
By JIM LINETTE ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Next weekend the Rotary Club of Cape Coral will have three cars running in the 14-Hour ChumpCar World Series at Sebring International Raceway.

It's the second year the club has participated in endurance racing as a fun, fellowship and fundraising endeavor. The club's Racing for Rotary team was expanded to three cars this year with the ultimate goal of raising money for a new charity to End Polio Now.

"It's a great cause," said Rotary president Jim Perry. "We're out there to have run and raise money and above all be safe. Those cars are going 100 mph-plus out there. It's a way to keep our members engaged in service to the community."

Rotarian Tom Burt brought the car racing idea to fellow club members about two years ago. As a racer himself, the team now consists of 30 volunteers and three cars going to compete against about 100 other cars for 14 hours starting on Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

"Two of the teams were not even Rotarians, but decided to join forces with us to make it a three-car team," said Burt. "They have gotten real excited enough to want to join Rotary."

Burt and an alternate driver race the original Racing for Rotary car, a 1988 Mazda RX-7 with a rotary engine. Drivers for the other two cars are racing professionals donating their time.

Mike Bondarenko is the primary driver of the 2002 Ford Thunderbird team and Scott Pepmiller the primary for the 1994 Mazda Miata team. Each team has a crew and alternate drivers.

The teams have spent countless hours building and prepping the ChumpCars that cost $500. They present an affordable competitive racing vehicle built for endurance events.

"We are just a bunch of average guys that strip down a beater car, add safety equipment to it and bring it back up as a race car," said Burt.

This will be Burt's third endurance race. Despite enduring an engine fire in the first race and a faulty transmission in the second race, Burt has managed to patch them up and finish the 14 hours.

"I hope we have addressed the weaknesses with our car," said Burt.

Racing for Rotary raised more than $10,000 for the End Polio Now effort and anticipates at least as much if not more this year.

"We raise money through sponsorships and by donations on a per-lap-completed basis like Susan B. Komen," said Burt. "This is Rotary's main initiative, to eradicate polio worldwide."

Monetary donations or sponsorships can be made online at .



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