Visions of Hope’s Autos 4 Autism will be holding its seventh annual drag race April 16 at the Bonne Terre Drag Strip.
Luanne Honerkamp, executive director of Visions of Hope, noted that the drag race is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year for Hope 4 Autism.
“It is attended by anywhere from 1,000-1,200 people,” she said. “We have people from other states come just for this event. A new thing this year is we had some of sponsors step up to be payout sponsors for over $6,000 total for the day. Hopefully, that will bring in more people for the drag race.”
Cam Thomas Racing is the event’s largest sponsor, with more than $3,000 being donated to the event by the non-profit organization. Also, Classic Buildings is donating a 10-foot by 12-foot garden shed valued at $6,000 that will be given away in a raffle. Tickets for the raffle are $10 each or 20 for $100. The drawing will be held at 5:30 p.m. and the winner need not to be present to win.
Explaining why he has helped sponsor the event for several years, Thomas said, “This is my fourth or fifth year. My wife and I have Cam Thomas Racing set up as a non-profit. I travel and drag race regularly. I also work for Classic Buildings, they’re a Christian-based company. Without Classic Buildings, none of this would be possible because it helped me and my wife take that next step to put ourselves in a position to give. Classic Buildings is an organization that’s more about people than profit.
“A good friend of mine named Ben is high-functioning autistic. He could have benefitted from some of the programs that Visions of Hope has as far as the social and vocational skills. There’s a lot of people that have things like autism that are kind of written off and not afforded the same opportunities.
“My little sister has cerebral palsy and she deals with a lot of similar things. She wants to do and be able to participate in certain things. But because she has this diagnoses tagged with her, she is not afforded those opportunities. I love getting out and interacting with the kids, sometimes even I take things for granted in being able to race, my family has done it for four generations. Without the people that I have in my life, none of it would be possible.”
According to Honerkamp, Larry McCormick of Mac Aire is donating two, one-hour flights.
“One will be sold as a raffle, we are already selling tickets for it,” she said. “The second one will be in the silent auction. The tickets are $1 each or 15 for $10. The flights will be for up to three passengers for a 50-mile radius from Farmington.”
Along with the race and the raffles, there will be a bounce house for children, kid’s games, and food concessions.
Cam Thomas Racing will sponsor the ET Class, Comp Class and Super Comp Class; Thurman, Shinn and Co. are sponsoring the Small Tire Heads Up Class; and the Bonne Terre Drag Strip will sponsor the Jr. Dragsters Class.
High Roller Monster Truck owner Jeff Krekeler will sponsor the Big Tire Heads Up Class. Krekeler is making plans to be present at the event, along with his truck.
“In the 84 years that Krekeler Jewelers has existed, we’ve always tried to give back to the community however and whenever we can,” he said. “Since the monster truck came into our lives, we’ve met a lot of young people on the autism spectrum. They just love the truck. That’s given us some insight into the amazing work that Visions of Hope is doing.
The gates open at 8 a.m. and racing begins at 10:30 a.m. Gate entry is $10 per person, with kids 12 and under free.
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org