During a Wednesday news conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Winston Kelley — the shrine’s executive director — acknowledged some personal hesitation with confronting heights. But Kelley and a host of others in the NASCAR community say they’re happy to set aside their trepidation for a good cause.
“If it’s for the kids, I’m willing to do it,” Kelley said in Wednesday’s kickoff to the first Charlotte edition of “Over the Edge,” a rappelling challenge and fundraising event scheduled Sept. 25-26 to benefit area education and healthcare services for children. The philanthropic program is the result of a joint effort with the Friends of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Foundation and The NASCAR Foundation.
Hall of Famer Richard Petty and NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton were also on hand to support the initiative — in voice, if not in a wall-scaling capacity. Petty said that Darrell Wallace Jr., his rookie driver in the famed No. 43, would take part, and Helton announced company contributions for participating employees.
“Every day or every week, we hear someone in our industry that’s given back to the sport and it makes you incredibly proud of being a part of NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and The NASCAR Foundation and everything that they do,” Helton said. “… As part of the league and the regulating body, we get told we’re over the edge a lot. But this is a real deal. This is fun.”
The event is capped at 130 spots, with each participant to raise $1,000 or more for the foundation’s charities. Going over the edge will mean a 10-story trip downward from the new Embassy Suites Charlotte Uptown with the NASCAR Hall of Fame and its plaza as a backdrop.
Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace and International Speedway Corp. CEO Lesa France Kennedy plan to be back for their second such event, with JTG Daugherty Racing driver Chris Buescher also joining in.
The Charlotte event follows the first NASCAR-related Over the Edge fundraiser, held last November at the corporate headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida. That debut raised $200,000 for the Daytona community, sparking conversation about expanding the program to another hub of the stock-car racing industry.
“It was such a success in Daytona that Lesa came to me and said we should do it in Charlotte,” said Nichole Krieger, The NASCAR Foundation’s executive director. “We started looking around and it made perfect sense for the Embassy Suites to host us. … It’s an important community to us like Daytona is, and we just think it’d be great to do something here in Charlotte.”
For more information about the program — including registration, sponsorship and volunteer opportunities — visit CharlotteOverTheEdge.org.