A Daughter's Death Helps Raise Awareness about Inexperienced Teen Driving; B.R.A.K.E.S. Dinner to be Held During the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals
Jessica Hamilton didn't see the pickup truck coming that took her life. If she had taken an extra second to check her rearview mirror, the 18-year-old might be alive today.
Teaching teenagers to take that extra second is the goal of B.R.A.K.E.S., the teen safe driving organization founded by NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Doug Herbert after the deaths of his own sons and supported by Speedway Children's Charities. Like Hamilton and Jon and James Herbert, nearly 6,000 teenagers lose their lives in car accidents each year; another 400,000 are sent to the emergency room with serious injuries.
On Thursday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m., The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway will host the third annual B.R.A.K.E.S. benefit dinner on opening day of the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals. The event will include inspirational stories, including featured keynote speaker Steve Hamilton, of Barnardsville, N.C., whose 18-year-old daughter Jessica died in an automobile accident three years ago. Hamilton now travels the country sharing his daughter's story and promoting safe driving.
"Steve's story is very impactful and it says a great deal about the fact that so many teenage drivers don't have the proper experience or training," said Herbert, B.R.A.K.E.S. founder and NHRA veteran. Herbert's 12 and 17 year old sons were killed in an automobile accident involving excessive speed two years ago.
"Like me, Steve works to raise awareness about this problem because he doesn't want other families to experience this type of tragedy," Herbert said. "One of the things we want people to understand is that the teen
driving problem is huge and it affects so many families all across the country."
"I can't think of a better way to launch the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway than to support this great cause," said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway and president of Speedway Children's Charities Charlotte Chapter. "If we can help save one teenager's life by teaching them the needed safety tools to be a better driver, then it is worth it."
The event will include a live auction sponsored by IRWIN Tools and a silent auction. Bob Frey, NHRA announcer, will be the emcee and auctioneer and comedian Killer Beaz will serve as the evening's entertainment.
Funds raised at the benefit dinner will go toward Speedway Children's Charities and the B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving School, which gives young drivers the dynamic experience of handling a vehicle in adverse driving conditions in a controlled environment. Professional driving instructors educate students on the proper way to handle skids, panic stops, accident avoidance and driving with distractions.
Since the driving school began in 2008, B.R.A.K.E.S. has provided hands-on training to more than 1,600 teens from 13 different states.
Tickets and sponsorships for the B.R.A.K.E.S. and Speedway Children's Charities benefit dinner are still available. To register or obtain further information, please contact Sara Fensterer at (704) 732-8950 or visit www.putonthebrakes.org.