Lucama, N.C. — The annual Thanksgiving Classic race at Southern National Raceway Park this weekend offered visitors a chance to help local tornado victims.
Racegoers are asked to bring canned food during the races to help victims of the Nov. 15 tornadoes that struck five counties and killed two people. The twisters damaged or destroyed 59 homes and six businesses.
Tornado survivors were offered free tickets to the race.
“We took tickets to one lady and my husband delivered them and she pure cried. She said, ‘you don’t know how much this means to me to be able to get my family out and my mind off of it,’” track manager Becky Boone said.
Silent auctions to benefit the tornado victims will feature items donated by NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin. People will also be able to make monetary donations.
“It makes you relax a whole lot because it’s just something different. You can come out here and watch something instead of looking at all the debris at the house,” said Jerry Edmondson, a former driver at the track, whose home was damaged by the tornado.
Teresa Batten, whose Wilson County home was ripped apart by the tornado, attended the race.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Batten said.
Batten’s home is now set for demolition.
Organizers hope to raise about $6,000 for tornado victims.
The race and events were scheduled for last week, but were postponed due to inclement weather.
Donations for tornado-victim relief can also be sent to:
American Red Cross
801 S. Third St.
Smithfield, N.C. 27577
Checks should include "Wilson-Johnston tornado" in the memo line to make sure the donation goes directly to the cause.