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Cars at the Castle to benefit Speedway Children's Charities

Leigh Ann Laube • Sep 23, 2012 at 9:33 AM

It may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see some of the most exotic cars ever made — all in one place.

The Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities will hold “Cars at the Castle” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at the former Grindstaff castle on Degrasse Drive, just off Highway 11-E in Johnson City. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Speedway Children’s Charities.

Homeowner Wayne Thacker said there will be close to 120 cars on the property, although some of them will be old NASCAR cars.

Thacker isn’t exactly sure what will be available for viewing, but some of the confirmed cars include the Lamborghini Aventador, McLaren MP4-12C, Rolls-Royce Ghost, Ferrari Scuderia, Ferrari Enzo, Bentley Mulsanne, McLaren Rolling Chassis, Bugatti and Porsche Carrera GT.

Representatives from Porsche, Audi, Bentley, McLaren and Lamborghini will also bring factory cars to the event.

“What most people don’t realize is that even if you went to the (Lamborghini) dealership, he doesn’t even have one of the Aventadors. There may be 100 in the country. The Bugatti that’s coming, there’s only 300 made in the whole world,” Thacker said.

Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities was founded in 1996 by Bruton Smith, chairman of the board of Speedway Motorsports Inc., to help area children. There is a chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities at each of Speedway Motorsports’ six facilities.

A nonprofit organization, Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities is governed by a board of local trustees whose sole purpose is to distribute the funds raised each year to qualified local children’s-based 501(c)(3) organizations.

Claudia H. Byrd, director of Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities, said she believes Thacker chose to help the group because of the amount of money that is funneled back to local organizations. The Bristol chapter has distributed more than $6.5 million since its inception.

“He approached us,” she said. “He loves cars, and he wanted to do something to bring in some exotic cars from all over the U.S. and do a big car show and let the proceeds benefit Speedway Children’s Charities. I think he chose us because the money we raise every year, we give 100 percent back to nonprofit children’s organizations. ... We give money to so many, and it would affect so many children.

“It’s such an amazing event, and it has gotten a lot of interest in the Tri-Cities area. This is probably the only chance people can see these cars in this area ever.”

Admission to the car show is $100. Admission to the car show and the dinner/entertainment portion of the evening, which begins at 6 p.m., is $200. For those interested in just attending the dinner/entertainment portion, the cost is $100.

Dinner will be catered on the grounds by BMS chefs, and entertainment will be provided by Wise Old River. The evening will also feature a charity auction.

Ten of the featured exotic cars are owned by Thacker, and the public will be invited to sit in his cars and have their pictures made. Thacker said he can’t speak for the other car owners and dealer representatives.

“What makes a car special to me is when I see a kid’s face light up. When I stop at a gas station with one of them ... and the kid’s face just lights up. I say, ‘Hop in there and take a picture.’”

Thacker said he originally planned the car show as a private event, but it just kept growing bigger and bigger.

“I looked for a local charity who would distribute (funds) fairly evenly and help children,” he said. “They also know crowd control. I said, ‘I can get the cars there if you can help me get the thing organized.’”

Thacker said he will consider doing “Cars at the Castle” again next year.

Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities’ flagship fund-raisers, the AutoTrader.com Speedway In Lights Powered by TVA and the Johnson Controls Ice Rink, open Nov. 16 and Nov. 12, respectively.

For more information or tickets to “Cars at the Castle” visit www.bristolmotorspeedway.com.

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