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“Horsepower for Hope” returns Saturday to the Bonne Terre Drag Strip for its fifth year to raise funds for Camp Hope, a local program that assists wounded war veterans and active duty military.

The drag strip is located at 7640 Black Berry Lane in Bonne Terre. Gates open at 9:30 a.m., followed by a drivers’ meeting at 11:30 a.m. Racing starts at noon. Spectator gate entry fees for ages 13 and up are $10 per person. Kids 12 and under are free.

Concessionaires will be on hand for the purchase of food and drinks throughout the event.

Sponsored by Auto Plaza Group Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge Jeep, Ram, Horsepower for Hope will feature the following classes: Comp, Super Comp, Open Outlaw and Small Tire.

All classes are $100 entry with a 90 percent payout — winner takes all.

The racing rules are Comp – trans brake allowed, no boxes allowed; Super Comp – no restrictions; Open Outlaw Class – Door cars only "run what you brung;" Small Tire Class – 29.5x10.5 non-W; and double entry and buybacks allowed on bracket racing.

“This is our fifth year and it’s amazing how it’s grown over the years,” said Event Coordinator Shawna Pettus, wife of Auto Plaza Group owner Joe Pettus. “We’re expecting this to be a great event and we’re wanting people to come out and support Camp Hope.”

Camp Hope, the non-profit program receiving proceeds from the event, seeks to help a portion of society that often falls through the cracks. Located a short distance outside of Farmington on a 250-acre piece of land, the camp has streams, creeks, granite boulders, gravel paths, trees and a variety of wildlife for veterans and service members to enjoy.

Camp Hope was developed by Gold Star parents William "Mike" and Galia White to honor the memory of their son, Pfc. Christopher Neal White. A Marine, he was killed in action at the age of 23 on June 20, 2006, in Al Anbar Province in Iraq.

Since its 2007 inception, Camp Hope has served approximately 500 veterans and service members. For the past few years, it has served about 100 people annually. The camp offers its guests the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities that include turkey and deer hunts, fishing trips and an annual float trip for female service members. Cabins comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. The camp is staffed by volunteers.

According to Pettus, holding fundraisers for worthy groups like Camp Hope is what their company is all about.

“We have a big racing community and people who like to watch racing,” she said. “It’s a perfect event for our area.

“Part of our company mission is our responsibility and privilege to do things for others,” she said. “When we were looking at veteran organizations to help, we came across a few but then Camp Hope came up. This event gives our employees an opportunity for service and to make a big impact on our communities.

“This year we’re doing something a little bit different. The Dixie Door Slammers are coming to put on an exhibition race for us. They’re a bunch of fast cars that race regionally in places like Oklahoma, Kansas and Indiana. Their cars are so fast they have to dial it down a little bit for this particular track. They’re donating their time for our event. It’s going to be really exciting.

"We definitely want everyone in the area to show up for this amazing veterans’ organization that is in our county. We really couldn’t be prouder of the work they do. We have such a giving community — everybody always shows up with such enthusiasm and we love it.”

Pettus noted that if Saturday turns out to be a rainy day, the event will be moved to the following day.

The 2019 sponsors include Platinum: Bonne Terre Drag Strip, Blue Creek Production, RHR, Bryant Restoration, First State Community Bank, and Moore Racing Chassis and Fabrication; Gold: Unico Bank, John Mills Cleaning Service, VP Get n Go, The Dog House and Dent Guy; Silver: Tropical Treats, Granny Franny’s, Richie’s Cleanup; Save A Lot; Dixie Door Slammers; St. Louis Street Kingz and Dean Frink Transportation.

For more information, go to www.autoplazagroup.com. Click on the Horsepower for Hope logo to be taken directly to the event page.

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Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or kjenkins@farmingtonpressonline.com

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