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Wide grins were the order of the day, Saturday, November 1, at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida, as more than 55 patients of Baptist Children’s Hospital, and their families, took part in the first “Rides and Smiles” Track Day event.

The brainchild of Canadian racing legend and broadcaster Bill Adam and supported by the Southern Automotive Media Association (SAMA), it offered pediatric patients who suffer from chronic childhood illness such as cancer, diabetes, Crohn’s and Colitis, and brain injuries, a chance to get an up-close and personal look at the 2.3-mile road course at Homestead. 

As most of the patients were under legal driving age, SAMA members drove them around the track, which includes a pair of variable degree high-banked turns and will be the scene of the season-ending Ford Championship Weekend, where the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion will be crowned. HMS contributed the use of the track and lunches for the event.

With the emphasis not on speed, but on the experience of driving exotic and high-performance street cars around the track, guests were able to experience the day in the seats of a Lexus IS-F, Chevrolet Corvette, Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder and Superleggera, an Audi RS4 Racecar, Porsche Cayman S, Audi R8, Mazda RX8, Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG, Dodge Challenger and Viper, and a Ford Bullitt-edition Mustang. 

That’s not to say that SAMA drivers exercised any great restraint with their right feet.

A few of Adam’s historic racecars were poised for demonstration drives including the Group 44 prototype he campaigned with Bob Tullius, and the Champion Motorsports Audi R8 that he campaigns in the HSR series.



Click on pictures to enlarge

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Inaugural ‘Rides ’n Smiles’ at Homestead-Miami Speedway
brings happiness to Baptist Children’s Hospital patients
By Juan G. Robbin  - Photos by Pepe Delfino

The inaugural “Rides ‘n Smiles” event is now history! 

All of the months of hard work and preparation spearheaded by Bill Adam and other SAMA members were clearly evident on Saturday, Nov. 1, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. There was excellent support from many of the car manufacturers, the race track management and all of the volunteers who generously donated their time, effort and knowledge to make this, inaugural “Rides ’n Smiles” event an overwhelming success.

Thanks to Marcello and Angelo Serrato of Prestige Auto for bringing their dedicated team of miracle workers. They did a fantastic job organizing, managing and staging the cars alongside the hot pits area. Energetic Diane Magnum, Chris Cavanaugh and other volunteers were instrumental in keeping order pit-side, getting the eager kids in and out of the cars all morning long.

We had a total of 50 kids ranging in age from 2 to 24 years of age. Additionally, there were parents, friends and other SAMA members in attendance, supporting and creating a fun atmosphere for the stars of the show, the kids from Baptist Children’s Hospital. Kudos to Rick Green, who did a masterful job with the day’s announcing duties. Rick made a running commentary of the cars, as well as impromptu car-side interviews as the kids beamed with huge smiles as they exited each of the cars.

Bill Adam thrilled everyone with the Audi RS4 race car, graciously offered for the event by Champion Motorsports in Broward County. Bill pulled yeoman duty by jumping out of the RS4 and into the Audi R8 super car, giving rides in that car as well. After lunch, Bill changed into “something less comfortable” buckled into the first of two race cars and gave some high speed demonstrations in the famous Jaguar XJR-10 GTP car that won the 1991 Miami Grand Prix downtown race, in addition to the Champion Motorsports Audi R8 race car.

We had an extraordinary car line up this year, including: Chevrolet Corvette, Saturn Sky Red Line, Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG, Audi R8, Dodge Challenger SRT8, Dodge Viper SRT10, Lexus IS-F, Mazda RX8, Nissan 350Z, Ford Mustang “Bullitt” edition, Porsche Cayman S, and a Mitsubishi EVO-10 MR. Additionally, we had Brett David, CEO of Lamborghini of Miami, bring down three Lamborghinis including one with a custom artist paint scheme. Thank you Brett for your generosity and for making great sounds with the three “Bulls.”

This writer has to admit, it’s a toss up who had more fun, the kids taking the rides or the SAMA volunteers driving the cars. Thank you Marcello for trusting me with the Viper SRT10! The check is in the mail for a new set of tires! 
Just before lunch, there was a drifting exhibition in a privately owned Nissan 350Z. Talk about car control! The kids loved it, from there everyone moved into a brand new lunch room still being finished by the track people. A nice lunch was available, thanks to the Homestead-Miami Speedway management followed by the presentation of the “100 MPH Club” diplomas as well as goody bags and photos for each of the kids.

Without a doubt there was an incredible atmosphere during the “Rides and Smiles” event. Bill was absolutely right saying that seeing a smile on these kids is a treasure all in itself. 
Thank you to all of the SAMA members, friends and supporters who volunteered, participated and gave their gracious time and knowledge to make the inaugural “Rides ’n Smiles” a roaring success. Let’s make it happen again; same time, same place, next year!

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The Following Photos by Pepe Forte

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