Building on its commitment to support children’s health care in the South Miami-Dade area, The NASCAR Foundation hosted its second annual Championship Taste event Thursday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
NASCAR drivers, fans and friends gathered at Homestead-Miami Speedway to enjoy a unique dining experience while raising money for the Speediatrics unit at Homestead Hospital, culminating with a $100,000 check presentation. The donation ensures that Miami-area children will continue to receive premium care and treatment in a colorful and fun NASCAR-themed environment.
“We’re so thankful for the wonderful sponsors, restaurants, drivers and the NASCAR fans and family who made Championship Taste at Homestead-Miami Speedway a success,” The NASCAR Foundation Executive Director Lorene King said. “We’re especially grateful for the partnership with the Pineapple Ladies of the Homestead Hospital Foundation who rallied the local community in support of the event. The best part about this event is that all funds raised stay local and ensure that Speediatrics will continue its important work in South Florida.”
Located at Homestead Hospital, the Speediatrics unit is dedicated to caring for the local community’s children. The NASCAR-themed, eight-bed unit includes a pediatric trauma room where the most severely ill or injured children can be stabilized, and is staffed by highly experienced pediatric emergency physicians and skilled nurses. Featuring colorful artwork and décor designed to ease anxiety and lift the spirits of young patients, Speediatrics has provided hope and comfort to thousands of children and their families.
“Last year, the Betty Jane France Children's Emergency Center treated more than 25,000 young patients,” Homestead Hospital CEO Bill Duquette said. “Through the generosity of The NASCAR Foundation, children are able to receive the care they need in a colorful, cheerful and calming environment."
This year’s event featured 23 South Florida restaurants showcasing their best menu items of 2013, including Celebrity Chef Adrianne Calvo’s restaurant, Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar. Participants had the opportunity to vote on their favorite restaurants from the night. Honors went to: Marker 88 (Overall Fan Favorite), Schnebly Redlands Winery (Best Drink), Ocean Reef (Best Appetizer), Smoke and Spice (Best Entrée) and Misha’s Cupcakes (Best Dessert).
In one of the evening’s highlights, Chef Adrianne and NASCAR national series drivers Aric Almirola, David Ragan, Johanna Long and Jennifer Jo Cobb, along with NASCAR Next drivers Gray Gaulding, Ryan Gifford, Ben Kennedy and Kenzie Ruston, squared off in a cooking contest. The group followed a recipe to create a spicy pinto beans and smoked sausage dish with all meats donated by Eckrich. The contest paired seasoned veterans with rising stars on a playing field other than a race track. The winners of this annual contest were Aric Almirola and Ben Kennedy, besting last year’s winner Johanna Long.
Other notables in attendance included NASCAR President and The NASCAR Foundation Vice Chairman Mike Helton, foundation board member and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace, Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer, ESPN analyst and former three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion crew chief Ray Evernham, Miss Sprint Cups Kim Coon and Brooke Werner and the reigning Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones.
In January, The NASCAR Foundation will host the Taste of the 24, a similar event that kicks off the Rolex 24 At Daytona weekend with fabulous music, great food and non-stop racing. The Taste of 24 will benefit The NASCAR Foundation Scholarship Program for graduating high school seniors in Volusia County.