SAMA’s Rides ’n
Smiles brings happy kids to Homestead-Miami Speedway
23 of November 2013
By Ron Beasley
Automotive Editor, Miami’s Community Newspapers
The Southern Automotive Media
Association’s sixth annual Rides ’n Smiles event at Homestead-Miami Speedway in
late November put smiles on the faces of about 150 ailing kids fighting cancer
from Baptist Hospital and Miami Children’s
Rides ’n Smiles is the brainchild of MotorSports racing legend and SAMA
President-elect Bill Adam. He conceived the idea of convincing auto
manufacturers to lend SAMA their hottest and most exotic vehicles for use in the
event. Then he persuaded Homestead-Miami Speedway officials to donate their
facility and staff for a day, thus enabling SAMA members to host the event. Over
the years, other private entities and individuals have joined Adam and SAMA to
expand the scope of the project. This year he added an exotic car auto show on
Homestead Air Force Base specifically for base personnel.
Basically, Adam hand-picks SAMA members to drive the cars on the day of Rides ’n
Smiles. Those automotive journalists are charged with spending the day giving
the kids safe fast-paced three-lap rides around the Speedway road course, which,
as the event name suggests, is meant to put smiles on the kids’ faces.
“Seven years ago I was asked by Children's Wish Canada to take children with
terminal cancer for rides at Mosport race track in Canada,” Adam says, when
asked how he came up with the idea for Rides ’n Smiles. “My friend who
volunteered me accurately predicted that I'd get even more out of the day than
the kids would and he was right!”
Adam, a former Pinecrest resident who now lives in Ft. Lauderdale, thought the
concept would be an ideal project for SAMA. Officials agreed and he began
working on the first event seven years ago.
Today, Rides ’n Smiles has evolved into a major automotive event, with 10 auto
manufacturers this year lending their vehicles, Homestead-Miami Speedway
donating use of the track, as well as safety and security personnel; Cadillac
dispatching its racing team; the Ferrari Racing Team from Ft. Lauderdale
attending; Hyundai Motor America hosting lunch for the volunteers and drivers;
and multiple private entities contributing cars, goods and services.
More than 200 children – including those from military families from nearby
Homestead Air Force Base – turned out for this year’s Rides ’n Smiles and were
given three fast laps around the Speedway’s road course in some of the fastest
and most exotic cars on the highway today, including a new Corvette Stingray,
Jaguar’s new F-Type Roadster, a Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet, Dodge’s exciting
new Viper SRT and Nissan’s hot GT-R sports car. Ford, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Audi,
Subaru and Mazda also sent their hottest cars for the event.
Also putting smiles on the kids’ faces this year were several exotic, privately
owned cars. Bob Panoff brought along a supercharged Viper and Dodge Challenger,
while Ron Vogel drove his gleaming new 2014 Maserati. Tom Gonzales gave rides to
the kids in his garage-kept Corvette ZR-1 (he only drives the car once a year
for Rides ’n Smiles); and German Botero piloted his vintage Porsche 356 race
car. And Adam was all smiles as he drove William Scherer’s classic Ford GT.
A special treat for the kids was the arrival of the Cadillac Racing Team from
Detroit with champion driver Andy Pilgrim. Also making the day more exciting was
the appearance of the Ferrari Racing Team from Fort Lauderdale and the 2012
championship Dodge from Penske Racing. All of the teams gave on-track
demonstrations of each car’s speed and power.
At the same time, there were several rare and unusual vehicles on display for
the youngsters’ enjoyment, including a Testa Rosa Sport Speciale from the
Creative Workshop of Dania Beach, an authentic U.S. Army Humvee from SFC Joseph
Hawkins; a 1968 Ford Mustang from Kris Adam, a Porsche Carrera GT, a Ferrari 458
Challenge race car from Henrik Hedman; a 1996 Corvette, a 2013 Ferrari from Kris
Kavanaugh and Myles Kornblatt brought along a museum-housed classic 1962
Homestead-Miami Speedway treated the kids to a tasty lunch of hamburgers and hot
dogs in the cafeteria, while drivers and volunteers from SAMA and the Air Force
base were given a barbecue lunch courtesy of Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels project.
All of the kids were awarded certificates from the Homestead-Miami Speedway
confirming their 100 mph speed on the race track and each took home a gift bag
stuffed with about $75 worth of auto-related goodies, including a back pack from
Jeep, tee shirts from SAMA and Cadillac, model cars and Beanie Babies.
Adam says he is already thinking about how to make Rides ’n Smiles better in
“I'll start work on next year’s event in the next few weeks as I like to plant
seeds and get things rolling while everyone is enthused and also full of the
Christmas spirit of giving,” he said.
The Following Photos by Ron
Click on photos to enlarge
Photos by Pepe Delfino - Videos by Javier Mota - Drone aerial video by
The Following Photos by Ron