Kyle Petty Charity Ride cruises into Manheim

By on May 9, 2018

Manheim Pa. (known as Manheim Auto Auction to locals) is often a bustling place. Monday, May 7 was no exception. But instead of cars being sold on the auction block, the action centered on 120 motorcycle riders, led by former NASCAR driver and NBC sports analyst Kyle Petty.

Manheim was one of the stops on the 24th annual seven-day Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, which kicked off May 5 in Portland, Maine. Riders will travel 1,200 miles to raise funds and awareness for Victory Junction, a camp dedicated to providing life-changing camping experiences for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. The ride concludes May 11 at the Greensboro, N.C., camp that was founded by the Petty family in 2004 in honor of Kyle’s late son, Adam.

Excited fans lined up outside the auction’s main building about an hour before the bikers were expected. As the mass of bikers pulled in with a roar, fans hoped to get a glimpse of Petty and other celebrity riders, including NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time champion “King” Richard Petty (Kyle’s dad); NASCAR legends Harry Gant, Hershel McGriff, and Donnie Allison; current NASCAR driver David Ragan; former NASCAR driver and ESPN racing analyst Ricky Craven; former NFL great and Heisman Trophy winner (1982) Herschel Walker; Heisman Trophy winner (1980) and Super Bowl champion (XXII) George Rogers; and NBC Sports NASCAR personalities Krista Voda, Rutledge Wood, and Rick Allen. Many of these celebrities greeted fans and signed autographs.

“By the end of the ride, we’re all like family. There’s a great camaraderie that develops, and it’s really neat. I’ve seen riders who don’t see each other from the end of one year’s ride to the beginning of the next one, and they pick up right when there left off,” Kyle Petty said, adding that the riders hit a bit of rain near the end of Sunday, but “you don’t’ care. When you ride in and see one of the kids who benefited from the camp — that’s what counts.”

Each year’s ride follows a different route, but it’s traditionally held at the end of April-beginning of May. This is the first time it’s been on the east coast since 2011, and Petty has dubbed it the “Americana Tour,” since it includes a number of bucket list stops such as Woodstock, Martin Guitar (C.F. Martin & Company, Inc.) in Nazareth, victory laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway, and Shenandoah National Park (the 13th national park visited by the ride).

“Pocono Raceway is special for me and my family,” said Petty. “We’ve raced there, but it’s more than that. I’ve been going there since the 1970s and we know the Mattioli family well; in the 70s, 80s and 90s racing was family.”

He explained that the first few years the charity ride was held, it was a cross-country ride —from the east to the west coast — then it shifted from a route that ran from Maine to Miami. Now the route has more of a regional focus, Last year’s route was Portland, Ore. to Milwaukee, Wisc.

“We went through Yellowstone, and that was amazing,” Petty said. “But what’s even more amazing is to see the number of people that turn out for us at the various stops.”

The grand finale of the ride will be at Victory Junction. This marks the first time the ride has ended at the camp since 2011.

“It’s a year-round camp, so there will be kids there,” Petty said. “The place really comes alive when the kids are there. For the riders, it’s great to have a chance to meet the kids; they’re the reason behind the ride, so it brings everything full circle.”

Manheim PA is one of the presenting sponsors of this year’s ride. Janet Barnard, Cox Automotive chief people officer, was one of the riders. Cox Automotive is Manheim PA’s parent company. Although this was her fifth year as a rider for the charity event, the organization has been a sponsor for the past six years.

“It’s rewarding to work with the Petty family and to help create a great experience for the kids at the camp,” Barnard said, “As a rider, we get to enjoy the hometown feel of the communities we ride through.”

She added that this year, as in previous years, the ride has stopped at Manheim’s auction. Joey Hughes, vice president and general manager of Manheim PA, said the auction, which is largest auto auction in the world, was pleased to host the charity riders.

“We support a number of charity and community efforts,” he said.

In addition to serving as a stop for the charity ride and an opportunity for fans to greet the riders, the auction also hosted a dinner for the riders and presented a $77,000 check to the charity.

Hughes explained that the donation is the result of several fundraising efforts, including a special dealer event with a charity auction.

The White family of Harley Davidson dealerships also assisted by providing a 2018 Harley, a Street Glide Special, to raffle. Raffle tickets were available for purchase at several locations, including all three of their Harley dealerships. Joe White, president and CEO, said the charity ride is one of several community efforts the dealerships support.

Since the inception of the Kyle Petty Ride Across America, more than 8,175 riders have logged 11.9 million cumulative motorcycle miles and raised more than $18 million for Victory Junction and other children’s charities. Since the camp’s inception, more than 26,600 children and families have received not only a circle of support but experiences thought to only be possible by healthy children.

Victory Junction is a member of the SeriousFun Children’s Network of Camps founded by Paul Newman, and is accredited by the rigorous guidelines of the American Camping Association.

To learn more about the camp, visit victoryjunction.org. Updates on the charity ride are posted on the ride’s Facebook page.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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