There is no debating the fact that karting is a tight-knit community. When you see the same people every other weekend, and go into battle either against them or alongside them, a sense of camaraderie is developed. One of the truly impressive constants in karting, and motorsports in general, is that when a driver or team is in trouble, their competition can normally be counted on to pitch in to get them back on track or back on the road. Regardless of the situation, in the end, we’re all just one big family.
To that end, Karting Community United (KCU) was built on this foundation of support. KCU’s Jen Durrant is the mother of Junior driver Payton Durrant and it has been a long-time dream of hers to develop a charity that could provide support and financial assistance for those in the karting community. Through the entire 50+ years of the sport’s existence, karters have been there for their fellow karters, whether it’s by donating parts to get a competitor back on the track or packing up a trailer for a driver who might have been injured during a race. Durrant’s concept is to build a financial fund that could be accessed to come to the aid of a karting family in the time of need. This has never been attempted in karting to this extent.
Karting Community United was launched earlier this year, and the fund’s initial growth has been developed through straightforward donations or fundraisers such as rental kart races and the KCU Summer Games at the recent US Open event at Grand Junction Motor Speedway. Upon receiving the official Form 501c3 non-profit status, Durrant moved forward and set up her board, which includes veteran karting enthusiasts Maddi Egger, Alan Rudolph, Andy Seesemann, Mike and Elena Maurini.
EKN had the chance to sit down with Jen to discuss the motivation behind launching the charity, the initial momentum that has been gained, and what the future holds for this ambitious and important undertaking.
eKartingNews.com: Jen, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. What you are doing for the karting community is incredible and the EKN staff is behind you all the way. Please tell our readers where this idea was hatched and what was some of the motivating factors that turned it from a concept into a reality.
Jen Durrant: Like you said, Rob, I have always wanted to start a charity of some kind. With our lives revolving around kart racing, starting KCU was a no-brainer for me. I had a very good friend basically tell me to “get to it and chase my dream”. All it took was one call and I had the support I needed to make me feel secure in my decision that I would have what I required. I started on the paperwork on February 2 and our 501(c)(3) status was approved on June 2 with the IRS.
EKN: In your own words, what is the purpose of Karting Community United and what type of situation do you see being suited for KCU assistance?
JD: I wanted to help those in need. I know that racing is expensive and lots of people can afford it, and then some. But there is still a percentage of the community who can afford to race, but if something were to happen, like a death of a parent or terminal illness, they would be devastated. These kids love what they do. They want to keep on doing it. If we can help in at least some way to keep a family afloat, it makes it all worth it.
The situations are all different. There is no set of rules or parameters that have to be met. The KCU board will review any nominations and see what they can do to help out when it is needed. In a perfect world, we would help everyone who needs it. Unfortunately, we rely solely on donations, so we have to be selective.
EKN: How can people go about donating to the charity, and what fundraising programs does the KCU currently have in place to grow the nest egg?
JD: We are in the process of getting the website up and running. Once it is up, there will be a nomination form that can be filled out so that people to inform us of potential recipients of our support. As far as fundraising is concerned, we have a raffle planned at the United States Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals this week. We have had some great companies step up and donate some awesome prizes to give away. We have KCU t-shirts and tanks for sell at all times, and all proceeds from the sale of this apparel will go straight to the fund, as they were donated by a very generous company. We are hoping to have some more events planned into the rest of the year to finish out the race season, and we’d love to hear any input from the karting community.
EKN: So it sounds like product donations will be accepted with open arms as well. This is undoubtedly help fill the table for future raffles. Can you tell us more about what you did with the ‘KCU Summer Games’?
JD: We had a blast with the KCU Summer Games at Grand Junction. We had a Corn Hole Tournament, a Closest to the Pin contest, and a Tire Roll for the kids. Viceroy very generously donated a two-night trip to Aspen for the winner of the ‘Closest to the Pin’ contest. There was a lot of good competition and, in the end, Tony Loniewski came out victorious. The Corn Hole tournament brought out some fierce competition also. Lots of teams played, and when everything was said and done, Team Sam’s Town from Rolison Performance Group was the winner. We had dedicated this weekend to Sam Fries, who passed away suddenly, so it was very fitting that they won.
EKN: It sounds like it was a big success. Congrats on the launch of the program and we looking forward to seeing the new website. Let’s make sure we keep in touch so that we can keep the EKN readership informed on the growth of the charity and up-to-date on any support effort that are being put in motion.
JD: Thanks so much for the interest. We hope to have some fun events planned for the rest of the year. Look for us at the final round of the Rotax US Open and the SKUSA SuperNationals XIX in Las Vegas. We love all of the support we have received so far and we are looking forward to all of new adventures to come.
Karting Community United Social Media:
Facebook: Karting Community United
Instagram: Karting Community United
(Article by Rob Howden, eKartingNews.com)