Last month we brought you news about Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart surprising fans at the NASCAR SpeedPark-Concord Mills in Charlotte. Well it turns out the event was such a big success that Quicken Loans decided to host a similar event at Octane Raceway in Phoenix, AZ last weekend.
The consensus? It was just as big a hit as the first time. In advance of Sunday’s AdvoCare 500, Newman raced against some of his biggest fans on the indoor track at Octane Raceway the night before the second to last Sprint Cup Series event. Fans that attended were allowed to race, eat dinner, and meet Ryan Newman. The best part? It was all free. According to 10-year old Andrew Jack, the experience was a dream come true.
“I race here quite a bit and got an email from Octane that said Ryan Newman was going to be here,” Jack said. “I told my mom that we had to come here so I can race against him.”
Jack finished seventh while Newman found himself at the top of the leaderboard. Even though Newman had a much faster go-kart than the kids he raced against, Jack wasn’t making any excuses for his mediocre finish.
“His car was rigged,” Jack said. “His car was a lot faster than mine but he’s a great driver so I think he would have won no matter what.”
Jack wasn’t alone in taking part in the fun. Quicken Loans had a special race dedicated for members of Operation Homefront, a Quicken Loans partner. Michael Higgins, who served in U.S. Army from 2006-2011, along with his wife Annalisha, also put their racing skills to test against Newman.
“I thought it was a lot of fun,” Michael Higgins said. “I think my favorite part about it was watching her (Annalisha) keep getting hit.”
The couple was thankful to get the chance to race against a Sprint Cup driver and have a quick meet and greet session with Newman. During his time in the Army, Higgins served in Iraq, Georgia and Louisiana. The couple understands how precious time can be, having spent nearly their entire first year of marriage apart due to Higgins’ deployment.
“I’m sure Ryan has a lot of other commitments he has to make for his job so it’s pretty awesome for him to take some time out to do something like this,” Michael Higgins said. “It’s nice to see someone like him come out and interact with his fans.”
Annalisha, who was pregnant during the couple’s first year of marriage while Higgins was deployed for nine months of the year, was especially appreciative of Newman’s kind gesture to his fans.
“It’s fun to see him interact with the fans because I don’t think people like him do these types of things enough,” Annalisha Higgins said. “It’s nice to see that he’s down to earth and knows how to have fun.”
While Annalisha grew up in a family of NASCAR fans, Higgins is new to the sport. The couple had a baptism to attend during Sunday’s race, although that wouldn’t keep Higgins from keeping track of his new favorite driver.
“I’ll be at church but I’ll be on my phone every chance I get checking to see how Ryan is doing,” Higgins joked.
The Mcspadden family is another example of the group of 140 that attended the event and had a great time. While Brody and Andy, the youngest members of the family were too young to race, older sister Madison and their father Jeff took advantage of the opportunity.
“It’s not every day you get the chance to race against someone like Ryan Newman,” Jeff McSpadden said. “When I first heard about it, I thought it was some kind of joke. We are really appreciative Quicken Loans allowed us to do this.”
Did you miss the events in Charlotte AND Phoenix? Don’t let it happen again. You never know what Quicken Loans has up its sleeve for you next! Be sure to check back with us for future updates!