‘Best Buddy’ Daniel Noltemeyer wins Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award

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In one of the more emotional moments of Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Banquet, Daniel Noltemeyer was named winner of the fourth annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.

Noltemeyer is a founder of Best Buddies Kentucky, an organization devoted to social inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Noltemeyer, 32, of Louisville, Kentucky, has Down syndrome, yet has overcome his disability to be an advocate whose reach spans both the U.S. and internationally as an ambassador for Best Buddies International, founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver.

“I am so honored [by this award],” Noltemeyer said in a statement. “I helped found Best Buddies Kentucky five years ago [and] I want to give back to an organization that has changed my life. I have learned to be a strong advocate for myself and others with disabilities, but most of all, I have made special friendships.

“I want to expand programs to make friendships possible for everyone. It’s like a dream come true to win this award to show the world how much someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities can accomplish.”

Noltemeyer was one of four finalists for the award. Best Buddies Kentucky will receive $100,000 for Noltemeyer receiving the most votes in a ballot of readers of NASCAR.com.

“Daniel says he is honored by winning the award; I want to emphasize that the feeling is mutual,” Betty Jane France said. “He is a remarkable young man, an inspiration to not only people with IDD, but everyone.

“Daniel was part of a very elite group of finalists this year, a group that NASCAR fans really responded to, as we had the closest voting in the award’s four years of existence.”

Three other finalists received $25,000 each for their organizations:

* Tammy Anderson-Lee, representing the Autism Society San Diego where she has developed adaptive swimming programs for children with Autism.

* Amber Larkin of Windermere, Florida, founder of the Noah’s Light Foundation, which is involved in the fight against pediatric brain cancer.

* Chris McElwee of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, founder of Michael’s Way, which provides financial assistance to families dealing with expenses resulting from children’s cancer.

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Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.