Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

IMS, Indiana Donor Network announces partnership

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indiana Donor Network, via its Driven2SaveLives campaign, have announced a partnership on Tuesday to promote organ, tissue and eye donation.

The campaign made its debut in 2016 as part of Stefan Wilson’s entry into his maiden Indianapolis 500 last year, in a late deal struck with KV Racing Technology for that team’s third car. Wilson competed in honor of late brother Justin, who died in August 2015.

Wilson was meant to have a sophomore run in this year’s 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil with Andretti Autosport, but stood down to make room for Fernando Alonso’s arrival in what was an undoubtedly tough but gracious decision.

Per Trackside Online, Wilson will be one of several driver ambassadors for the partnership. Others of note include Pippa Mann, Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., all of whom were close to Bryan Clauson, who competed in three Indianapolis 500s, the last two with Jonathan Byrd’s Racing (in partnership first with KVRT and then Dale Coyne Racing) but was fatally injured in August last year.

The release from IMS is below:

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) announced today it has partnered with Indiana Donor Network to promote organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation through the Driven2SaveLives ® campaign. The goal is to educate race fans on donation and to encourage them to register their donation decisions through the campaign.

“This partnership between IMS and the Indiana Donor Network is very important to all of us,” said Mark Miles, Hulman & Company president and CEO. “We see this as a great opportunity to reach fans who visit the Racing Capital of the World throughout the year, informing them about the need for registered donors across Indiana and the United States. It’s extremely easy for anyone to take part in this process and save lives.”

Photo: IndyCar

Indiana Donor Network, which oversees and coordinates organ, tissue and eye donation across the state, launched Driven2SaveLives in April 2016 with IndyCar driver Stefan Wilson to promote donation and transplantation awareness around the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. At the time, the campaign honored Stefan’s late brother, IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who died in August 2015 from injuries he sustained in a race crash and saved five lives as an organ donor.

“When we launched Driven2SaveLives last year, we wanted to show the hope and healing that donation provides families, and in turn, we hoped to inspire race fans to become registered donors like the Wilson brothers,” said Kellie Hanner, president and chief executive officer at Indiana Donor Network. “Then we lost another racing hero in Bryan Clauson, and his family approached us to help spread donation awareness and to encourage donation registration more broadly within motorsports.”

Bryan Clauson prior to the start of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. He’d then go on to race again that evening in a sprint car race at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway — and won!

Bryan Clauson, a versatile and beloved driver best known for his talent and achievements in dirt track open-wheel racing, died in August 2016 following a race accident. As a registered donor, he went on to save five lives as an organ donor and continues to heal the lives of countless others as a tissue donor. In January 2017, Indiana Donor Network partnered with Clauson-Marshall Racing and expanded Driven2SaveLives into dirt track racing in honor of Clauson.

“Driven2SaveLives has worked tirelessly to promote donation and transplantation within motorsports since it was formed after the tragic passing of Justin Wilson,” said J. Douglas Boles, IMS president. “The need for donors was magnified even further after we lost Bryan Clauson last summer. Both Justin and Bryan were incredible people who always connected with fans and selflessly gave of themselves as donors, and we hope fans will honor their memory and join drivers from so many series by supporting this vital campaign and registering as a donor.”

IMS and Indiana Donor Network together will promote donation and transplantation awareness starting this weekend, at the INDYCAR Grand Prix, through next year’s Indianapolis 500. Race fans can expect to see the Driven2SaveLives campaign – signage, videos, advertising, social media and more – at all IMS events in between. A special Bryan Clauson tribute is also in the works for the 100th lap of this year’s Indianapolis 500.

“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the biggest name in motorsports, and we are incredibly grateful to have their support as we honor donation heroes like Justin Wilson and Bryan Clauson and encourage more people to take part in those legacies by registering their own donation decisions,” Hanner said.

The easiest way for race fans to register their decisions to become registered donors is to visit Driven2SaveLives.org. The campaign’s website feeds into Donate Life America’s national registry, which means fans, no matter where they live in the United States, can register their donation decisions there.

FACTS:

  • More than 118,000 people nationwide are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants.
  • Over 1,300 of these people are in Indiana alone.
  • In the U.S., another person is added to the transplant waiting list every 10 minutes.
  • Each day, 22 people on average in the U.S. die because a donated organ wasn’t made available in time.
  • One organ donor can save the lives of as many as eight people.
  • One tissue donor can heal the lives of approximately 75 people.
  • Approximately 90 percent of Americans support organ donation, yet only 50 percent are registered.
  • You can register to become an organ, tissue and eye donor at http://www.driven2savelives.org.

American Flat Track puts emphasis on fans in building 2020 schedule

American Flat Track
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American Flat Track put an emphasis on fans and feedback from other series while also acknowledging everything is tentative while hammering out its schedule for the 2020 season.

The 18-race schedule over nine weekends will begin July 17-18 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida, about 20 miles from AFT’s headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The dirt track motorcycle racing series, which is sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, shares a campus with its sister company, NASCAR, and American Flat Track CEO Michael Lock said the series closely observed how it’s handled races in its return during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and also built AFT’s procedures from NASCAR’s post-pandemic playbook of more than 30 pages.

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“I speak personally to the committee within NASCAR that has been put together for the restart, regularly talking to the communications people, general counsel and other relevant operations departments,” Lock told NBCSports.com. “So we’ve derived for Flat Track from NASCAR’s protocols, which I think are entirely consistent with all the other pro sports leagues that are attempting to return.

“Obviously with NASCAR the scale of the business is completely different. There were some times more people involved in the paddock and the race operations for NASCAR than the numbers of people at flat track. Our scale is much smaller, and our venues are generally smaller. So we can get our hands around all of the logistics. I think we’re very confident on that.”

While NASCAR has had just under 1,000 on site for each of its races without fans, Lock said American Flat Track will have between 400 to 500 people, including racers, crews, officials and traveling staff.

But another important difference from NASCAR (which will run at least its first eight races without crowds) is that American Flat Track intends to have fans at its events, though it still is working with public health experts and government officials to determine how many will be allowed and the ways in which they will be positioned (e.g., buffer zones in the grandstands).

Lock said capacity could will be limited to 30-50 percent at some venues.

American Flat Track will suspend its fan track walk, rider autograph sessions for the rest of the season, distribute masks at the gates and also ban paper tickets and cash for concessions and merchandise. Some of the best practices were built with input from a “Safe to Race Task Force” that includes members from various motorcycle racing sanctioning bodies (including Supercross and motocross).

There also will be limitations on corporate hospitality and VIP access and movement.

“I think everything the fans will see will be unusual,” Lock said. “Everything at the moment is unusual. We will roll out processes that are entirely consistent with the social distancing guidelines that will be in place at the time of the event. So we’re planning for a worst-case scenario. And if things are easier or better by the time we go to a venue, it’s a bonus.”

Lock said the restrictions are worth it because (unlike other racing series) AFT must have fans (even a limited number) for financial viability.

“We took a decision fairly early on in this process that it was neither desirable nor economically viable to run events without fans,” Lock said. “I can think of some big sports like NFL or like NASCAR where a huge chunk of that revenue is derived from broadcast, which means that your decision making as to how you run an event, where you can run an event has a different view than a sport like ours, or even like baseball, for example, that needs fans. Because the business model is so different.”

Broadcast coverage is important to American Flat Track, which added seven annual races over the past five years and can draw as many as 15,000 to its biggest events.

Lock said AFT ended the 2019 season with more than 50,000 viewers for each live event, making it the No. 1 property on FansChoice.TV. This year, the series has moved to TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. “We’re expecting a really strong audience from Day 1, particularly with all this pent-up demand,” Lock said.

NBCSN also will broadcast a one-hour wrap-up of each race (covering heat races and main events).

Because the season is starting three months late, the doubleheader weekends will allow AFT to maintain its schedule length despite losing several venues. And there could be more, Lock said, noting that there still are three TBA tracks.

“There may still be some surprises to come from one venue or another of delay or cancellation,” he said. “But we are intending to run as full a season as possible.”

Here is the American Flat Track schedule for 2020:

July 17-18 (Friday-Saturday): Volusia Speedway Park, Barberville, Florida

July 31-Aug. 1 (Friday-Saturday):  Allen County Fairgrounds, Lima, Ohio

Aug. 28-29 (Friday-Saturday): TBA, Northeast United States

Sept. 5-6 (Saturday-Sunday): Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, Illinois

Sept. 11-12 (Friday-Saturday): Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Sept. 25-26 (Friday-Saturday): TBA, Texas

Oct. 2-3 (Friday-Saturday): Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, Georgia

Oct. 9-10 (Friday-Saturday): TBA, North Carolina

Oct. 15-16 (Thursday-Friday): AFT season finale, Daytona Beach, Florida