For years, Jean and Aaron Wilson watched races at Road America from their favorite spot in Turn Six. They got to know the fans around them, forming a “racing family” that met every year. Even after Jean was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she and Aaron still found joy in the community and excitement of racing. Jean passed away in November, and this weekend will be Aaron’s first race without his beloved wife by his side. Jean will be celebrated and remembered by her racing family and by Racing to Alzheimer’s, who has added her name to the #80 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4.
Jean’s name joins over 120 others that are emblazoned on the #80 BMW, which is driven by Nick Galante and Dillon Machavern in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series. Racing to End Alzheimer’s is a non-profit, and supporters can contribute $250 for the opportunity to put the name and hometown of a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s on the car. Aaron’s fraternity brothers at Alpha Phi Alpha decided that was the perfect way to honor Jean and to help fight Alzheimer’s.
100% of proceeds goes to organizations working to find a cure and to provide improved care. A matching donation from corporate sponsor Legistics doubles the amount of money to make an even bigger impact.
To Racing to End Alzheimer’s, everyone fighting the disease is a champion in their own right. “Every time you see a name on our car honoring someone, it represents not just that person affected by Alzheimer’s, but also their family who literally stops just about everything to provide love and care,” says Racing to End Alzheimer’s founder Phil Frengs. “So I salute the families’ champions — the person named on the car and each one of the family members who show their love and respect to their loved one. I send nothing but my best wishes and my love to them, as well.”
During the hiatus in racing during the first half of the year, Frengs decided to honor the Racing to End Alzheimer’s champions in another way. He created On the Road Again: The Ultimate Tour for the Cure. This two-week road trip from Daytona Beach, Fla., to Monterey, Calif., raised awareness and funds in a BMW M4 that looked just like the race car, including all of the names. Along the way, Frengs presented checks to both the Nantz National Alzheimer Center at Houston Methodist Hospital and UCLA’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program.
Now that racing is underway again, fans can look for Jean’s name on the #80 BimmerWorld BMW when the race starts on Saturday, August 1 at 2:45pm ET. It will be broadcast live on IMSA.tv and again on Sunday, August 2 at 12:05pm on Trackpass on NBC Sports Gold.