By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
MOORESVILLE, N.C. – As the holiday season approaches, NASCAR drivers, motorsports personalities and legends, and race fans came together at the 30th Anniversary of Stocks for Tots. Raising awareness for victims of child abuse, Hall of Famers, competitors from NASCAR, NHRA, and the Allison Legacy Series visited with race fans at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C. on December 4, 2018.
Don Miller, co-founder of Stocks for Tots, admitted that he never expected Stocks for Tots to last 30 years, let alone become what it is today.
“To be very honest with you, no. When we first did it (Stocks for Tots), it was Rusty (Wallace) and I put it together. I figured it would be a very nice thing if we could do it for three or four years. I kind of thought that people would lose interest after a while. But, obviously, they didn’t.
“I think that it’s really good because it’s not just stock car people, it’s motorsports people. Race car drivers from every aspect. I think that’s the thing that gives it a lot of body. We’ve got championship road racers, drag racers, motorcycle racers, and we have lots of new guys coming along. Maybe that new blood will help continue to build it. Who knows, look at how long we’ve been able to go.”
The event, hosted by the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame, benefits the Iredell County, N.C. chapter of SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now). The tradition of raising money and donating toys to children and families continued, adding to the $1 Million in donations and hundreds of thousands worth of toys reached last year. Both General Admission and VIP tickets sold out as no fewer than 400 race fans attended the Annual post-season event.
Once again, the event was separated into three separate sections, a Legends Room filled with retired drivers, Hall of Famers, and other motorsports personalities, a Celebrity Room with today’s stars, and a silent auction. The silent auction included items donated by various race teams, drivers, and local businesses including Hendrick Motorsports, Kyle Busch Motorsports and JR Motorsports, among others.
This year, the Legends Room included NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, N.C. Auto Racing Hall of Famer Ricky Rudd, as well as Donnie Allison, Harry Gant, and Dave Marcis. Other personalities included sportswriters Deb Williams and Steve Waid, as well as mechanics and crew members, such as Billy Biscoe and Waddell Wilson.
“It’s just a tremendous job that the folks do here, all of the volunteers that come here to raise money for such a great cause,” Rudd explained. “I’m just glad I get to put in my two cents worth to make a go of it. Don Miller started this 30 years ago, and it’s unbelievable the size. I was one of the original ones. Unbelievable to see the size that it’s grown to.”
Waid was humbled to be included in the Legends Room,
“I think it’s important to the fans. The fans have come out here for two big reasons, to help charities and kids, and see their heroes, not that I’m one of them, but I understand that. You have something of a commitment to give back to the fans that give so much to the sport.”
“It’s rock solid,” Waid said of Miller’s legacy. “Not only in racing, but as a human being doing humanitarian services with the sport that he loved. No question.”
The Celebrity Room included Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Paul Menard and Ryan Newman, as well as Xfinity Series drivers Cole Custer, John Hunter Nemechek, and Max Tullman. The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series was represented by Austin Wayne Self, Jordan Anderson, Joe Nemechek, David Gilliland, and Todd Gilliland.
For David Gilliland, just being a part of Stocks for Tots, and to be able to help children in need, is a source of pride.
“It’s just a special event to help the kids. It’s something we look forward to doing every year. It’s a great group of guys here. I’ve seen some faces that have been doing it a long, long time, and they continue to do it. I’m proud that they ask us to come. It’s exciting.”
“I think it’s a really cool thing to be able to give back to the community,” Custer said. “We’re in the off season and had time to do it, so I thought it was good to be able to give back.”
If you wish to donate to Stocks for Tots, you can call the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame at (704) 663-5331, or donate on their website.