When the ten Grand Marshals say “Drivers, start your engines!” prior to the green flag flying at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Saturday, Aug. 16, their voices will ring true, even though they’ll be quite high pitched.
The ten Patient Champions from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, ranging in age from 2.5 to 10 years old, will make the famous call to start the race and will be front and center alongside drivers for the NASCAR Nationwide Series for some of the most exciting auto racing anywhere.
The Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 is the 2014 season finale for the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and if the inaugural NASCAR race in 2013 is any barometer, it will prove to be a scramble of 40 drivers at superhuman speed – all with their eyes firmly on the prize.
The race marks the second time the NASCAR Nationwide Series will run at Mid-Ohio after A.J. Allmendinger won the inaugural in 2013. In the other two road events in the Nationwide Series this season, Brendan Gaughan won on June 21 at Road America, and Marcos Ambrose won Saturday at Watkins Glen. Among the 40 drivers on the starting line will be current series points leader Chase Elliott, Regan Smith, Elliott Sadler, Ty Dillon and Dylan Kwasniewski to name a few, as well as Ohio-native Sam Hornish Jr.
“I can’t think of a more exciting way to wrap up our 2014 racing season,” said Craig Rust, President of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. “Not only are these guys incredible drivers, but the job NASCAR, its teams, and their partners do for charitable causes is amazing.”
A second series, Trans-Am, will also compete during the event weekend. Trans-Am qualifying will be between 4:45 and 5:30 p.m. on Friday, August 15, with the race taking place the following day, at 12:30 p.m. Qualifying for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 will take place at 9:40 a.m. on Saturday, with the race scheduled to start at 2:45 p.m.
For a second year, Patient Champions have been paired with a NASCAR Nationwide Series driver and team and are given the opportunity to contribute to that team’s paint scheme for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200. Two of those designs were publicly introduced in July at the race’s kick-off event, held at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, featuring two Roush Fenway Racing drivers. Ryan Reed, driver of the No. 16 American Diabetes Association Drive to Stop Diabetes presented by Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang and his Patient Champion, Dalton Miller showed off their design. Chris Buescher, driver of the No. 60 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Ford Mustang, and his Patient Champion Luke Benner, unveiled their design, featuring Luke’s photo on the hood of the car. The other eight participating team’s designs will be revealed this week leading up to the race on Twitter via @NationwideNNS and with the support of teams, drivers, and NASCAR.
Nationwide Insurance, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Mid-Ohio and NASCAR will be involved in several events during race week to promote the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200. On Thursday, August 14 at 11:30 a.m., ten NASCAR haulers will parade through downtown Columbus before arriving at Nationwide Arena for NASCAR Fan Fest, giving NASCAR fans the opportunity to meet some of the drivers who will be participating in the race on Saturday. Later that evening, the Columbus Clippers will welcome drivers and teams to Huntington Park for NASCAR Night where NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Brendan Gaughan and Dylan Kwasniewski will throw out the first pitch.
Tickets for Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 are available now, starting at $60 for weekend general admission, with free admission for children 12 and under. Visit midohio.com or call 800-MID-OHIO (643-6446) to order tickets or for more information.
Information received from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.