IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge team owner/driver Rob Ferriol has created a new non-profit charity designed to benefit the legions of fly-in racing crew members who’ve been unable to earn income at the racetrack.
Through Team Hardpoint and the new Hardpoint Paddock Foundation, Ferriol’s #RealRacingHeroes campaign is part of a 501(c)(3) charitable effort utilizing profits from the sales of new merchandise [https://shop.hardpoint.com/], and a GoFundMe account [https://www.gofundme.com/f/real-racing-heroes] where the proceeds will be given to the men and women who make racing possible.
“As a fan, driver, and a relatively new team owner, I’d certainly like to have a healthy sport to come back to when this is all over, and that means having this key cog in the race economy still intact when the tracks go green again,” Ferriol said. “I’ve put measures in place to make sure the men and women of Team Hardpoint are taken care of during this period of uncertainty, but that’s only one team out of hundreds.
“So, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve decided to form The Hardpoint Paddock Foundation, The Foundation’s mission is to provide emergency financial assistance to contract crew members hardest hit by the CV-19 shutdown. Its outreach will focus initially on professional sportscar racing teams but may expand to include other series and support elements based on the success of our fundraising efforts.
“I have also pivoted the resources of Hardpoint Outfitters to focus on the design, production, and sale of a Flatten the Curve line of products with help from motorsport apparel and design firm 8380 Laboratories. The design acknowledges the phrase we are all living daily during this crisis, but also its dual meaning for racing drivers and our beloved apexes. All proceeds from the sale of these items will go to The Hardpoint Paddock Foundation, where they will be used solely to provide emergency assistance to those in need.”
With the program in effect for the better part of a week, Ferriol (pictured above, middle) says the initiative is gaining momentum.
“It’s going really well, and I’ve learned a lot about rapidly standing up a philanthropic endeavor,” he added. “The reaction has been great. Almost immediately we had t-shirt orders coming in, then mugs and stickers and more. And this week has been the same, and we have the GoFundMe link put up. It’s been a decent response there, but we hope for more, so we’ve been shoring up the messaging to get the GoFundMe link shared as often as we can.
“And earlier this week we sent out an email to a big list of drivers, mostly gentleman drivers like myself, telling the story, imploring them to look at our sport in a different way during the current crisis. The cost of something as frivolous as a set of tires we’d buy and use at an IMSA race — that’s something that would help support a family of our crew members during this crisis. If I can spend $500 on a tire, maybe we can spend that same money to help our crews.”
Ferriol’s foundation team is busy reviewing the applications [https://hardpoint.formstack.com/forms/foundation_intake] from crew members in need of financial assistance that are starting to arrive.
“The early emphasis was attracting funding, and the next step, as of yesterday, when you go to the RealRacingHeroes.com page, there’s now an ‘Apply’ link there which has a form that comes to us, then we screen it for authenticity, and that will trigger a fuller application that would go back out to identify the crew member, the team they were working with, and to tell their story about how they’ve been impacted,” he said.
“The assistance will go out in the form of a grant, under emergency assistance parameters, and out ability to assist crew members will be driven by sales of the charitable products and GoFundMe donations. The more we can raise, the more we can help. We want to play a small role in helping to keep our sport afloat.”