A race car driver’s autograph is one of the most sought after souvenirs of a race weekend, and can be one of the most prized possessions to the dedicated race fan. In 2023, some of these treasured signatures are going to look a little different. Thanks to an idea dreamed up by a grassroots charity initiative, autographs in garage areas and fan zones across America will start to think pink.
The Mohawk Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization based out of Illinois uses sporting events across various disciplines to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer and ALS research. Founded by lifelong race fan Ryne Hoover, The Mohawk Foundation has a healthy history and relationship with motorsports, including associate sponsorships with multiple race teams across NASCAR’s national divisions. While directly sponsoring cars has been a rewarding experience, Hoover was looking for a fresh idea to raise awareness. “As a small charity it’s extremely hard to get enough attention to make a lasting impact, so we had to come up with a creative way to get our name and mission out there.”
Hoover’s idea is simple: influential people in sports will be signing autographs with pink ink pens/markers instead of the traditional black. “It’s a small way for people to continuously show support for those that battle against breast cancer every single day. My hope is that every time someone sees that autograph in pink, they will think about the importance of the mission.”
In auto racing, participating drivers across the country will be signing their autographs with the pink markers throughout their 2023 racing calendar. Given the sheer number of times race-car drivers sign their name, this could easily amount to thousands of pink signatures dotting across scores of race tracks in various racing disciplines.
“The racing community has been so accepting of our little charity and mission over the last year or so,” says Hoover. “With so many varied perspectives and stories it’s a reminder that everyone agrees that cancer SUCKS, and that is a uniting force.”
While the 2023 race season has barely even started, drivers are already expressing enthusiastic interest and have come onboard with the foundation’s idea. ARCA driver Stephanie Moyer, who made history last year as one of a record six female racers in the 2022 race at the Milwaukee Mile, is excited for the opportunity to raise awareness. “To be signing autographs in pink this year means a lot to me. Breast cancer runs in my family. My great grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 85 and had a mastectomy. She was in remission for five years and came back and took her life at the age of 91. This opportunity is going to be for her and for awareness”
Ryan Vargas, a NASCAR driver with experience most recently in the Xfinity series also holds a personal reason for joining in on the program. “I’m very happy to be a part of it. It’s super special and a close matter to me. My grandmother passed from breast cancer so anything I can do to help carry her memory in some sort is important to me.”
While coordinated support is good to see, any member of the racing community is welcomed to participate in the program and help spread the message however possible. “Anyone that just wants to use a pink marker this year is welcome to participate in the campaign,” says Hoover. “The whole point is awareness to the people and families fighting breast cancer, and we want to support them in any way possible.”
My Mom passed away from breast cancer in 2018, so we add pink to our modified every October for breast cancer awareness month. So it’s great to see someone setting up a promotion like this!Dirt Modified racer Greg Reed from Delaware
As ARCA testing is just getting underway, and the Chili Bowl and Daytona 24 Hour races still yet to be completed, this is a time of great optimism in the racing calendar. With fond expectations across every level of North American auto racing, there’s no better time to take stock and get excited about something new. There’s no one unaware of the fight to end cancer, and breast cancer certainly is a point of emphasis in the continued struggle, but The Pink Marker Campaign is a new piece to add to the conversation. For every pink signature that’s floating around a garage area, posted on social media, or even just sitting on a mantle as a conversation piece, there’s a new seed of thought to a decades long struggle. For research, for fundraising, and especially in memorial and remembrance, The Pink Marker Campaign is aspiring to be a point of pride for the racing community, and add a little something extra to the most important race of our lives.
If you’d like to formally join up with the Pink Marker Campaign reach out via the following:
Some drivers currently involved with The Pink Marker Campaign in 2023 include:
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