Engines rev, drivers race karts in Paducah for Kentucky health service organization
Drivers, racing enthusiasts and community members came together Tuesday at Paducah’s Atomic City go-kart track to raise money for a charitable health care provider. The event also included live music, and a silent auction.
Proceeds from the event — which included the charity race, live music and a silent auction — benefited KentuckyCare,a health service provider in western Kentucky offering affordable medical services including behavioral health, women’s services, and primary care.
KentuckyCare Pharmacist Nicole Walston said she grew up in a family of racing enthusiasts.
“We love racing. It's something that we've always done. I have a son that races go-karts. He's a third generation driver,” Walston said “And, what better way to spread the word and help some folks than to put on a racing event to benefit the community?”
The event is part of a series of partnerships KentuckyCare is announcing to focus on ideas of hope, healing, and restoration for the community. KentuckyCare vice president of operations Michael Hill said these ideals are needed in Kentucky now more than ever.
“I think it's just important for people to know this is a time of coming together. It's been a very difficult couple of years with the pandemic, and the tornado and now the floods in eastern Kentucky,” Hill said. “We want it to be a time that people can come together and share stories, and can work together toward a positive outcome.”
More than 20 drivers signed on to slide into their jumpsuits and get behind the wheel of a go-kart, all in the name of good clean family fun. Many of the racers were western Kentucky locals with racing experience under their belts. The race also featured commentary from special guest Jim Childers, a former announcer at Paducah International Raceway and many other regional racing events.
Bobby Dietz is a Murray native and one of the many drivers who competed for first place in the race. Dietz says his grandfather owned a race track in Bradford, Pennsylvania, and that he’s been driving since age 14. Dietz didn’t get back into racing until after he graduated high school in 1983, but he’s racked up over 26 years of racing experience.
“The last time I raced was in 2008,” Dietz said before the event. “I hope I still have skills left. That way, I don’t embarrass myself.”
Many racers came out of retirement to race for the cause, including Gary Keeling. Keeling’s family owns Keeling Raceway in Paducah, so Keeling said racing has been a part of his life since he was a little boy.
“And, after I got to the age where I could kind of afford it, I got into [racing] at the early age of about 20 years old. And, I've done it for 30 years,” Keeling said.
Dietz and Keeling both made it to the top eight of more than 20 racers. Keeling won runner-up overall for the night with his fastest time to complete a lap being 20.612 seconds. He lost out to overall winner Cameron Brown who set a new record at the Atomic City track for the fastest lap, coming in at 20.018 seconds.
KentuckyCare is still totaling the funds from the event.