The last US-based round of the 2021 Ferrari Challenge NA season ended on a high note with performances by Denise Stefanie and a Paddock Celebration recognizing Race for RP’s partners and supporters.
We were pleased to acknowledge our partners, the drivers and teams competing this 2021 season, and our supporters for helping Race for RP and the RP Foundation drive awareness of relapsing polychondritis and accelerate research for RP and autoimmune diseases.
The weekend began with the arrival of our flagship No. 153 Race for RP Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo. Shortly after that, Neilio arrived in Wisconsin with members of the Race for RP team. Testing got underway on Thursday, where drivers and crews made their initial on-track assessments, followed by official practice sessions on Friday. That evening, anticipation was building ahead of Saturday’s races and events. But first there was Neilio’s big reveal… Scuderia Corsa driver of the No. 153 Race for RP Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo sporting new stripes and going “All In” to represent Race for Relapsing Polychondritis and the RP Foundation.
Saturday morning, we saw qualifying sessions take place in both Coppa Shell and Trofeo Pirelli classes, and the grid was set for the first races of the weekend, scheduled for later that afternoon. By 4pm local time, the racers were suited-up and the Ferraris began rolling out of the paddock, slowly making their way to the start / finish line at Road America. After the cars lined up on the grid, there was an extended and heartfelt moment of silence to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11. This was followed by a powerful rendition of the national anthem performed by Denise Stefanie.
Shortly after, RP Foundation Chair and Race for RP Founder, Nancy Linn, delivered the famous words of motorsports. With a “start your engines” command, the 488s advanced behind the pace car for Coppa Shell Race 1.
Joining us for the weekend was Dr. Peter A. Merkel, Chief of Rheumatology at University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Penn RP Program. The Penn RP Program drives powerful research initiatives to improve patient care. And who better to wave the green flag than Dr. Merkel, a leader in the race for relapsing polychondritis research and discovery. As the sound of the 488’s grew louder, the fleet of Ferraris roared past the starting line while Dr. Merkel waved the green flag to start the race.
Racing was competitive, with fantastic flag-to-flag commentary by Greg Creamer on live.ferrari.com. We were delighted to see our Scuderia Corsa teammates, along with our fellow Ferrari Challenge NA series drivers, find success on the track at Road America.
The Paddock Event
After the racing finished on Saturday, Race for RP and the Relapsing Polychondritis Foundation hosted a Paddock Event to recognize and thank our partners at Ferrari North America, the drivers within the series, and our friends and supporters across the motorsports community. It was a great way to connect and highlight the progress we are making at the University of Pennsylvania, while communicating the importance of funding for research. In a wonderfully arranged outdoor setting, framed-off by a magnificent HD wide screen and the No. 153 Race for RP Ferrari prominently on display, the stage was set to greet the hundreds of guests in attendance. David Bammert, President of the RP Foundation, gave the opening remarks, followed by a special acknowledgment of Dr. Peter A. Merkel, Chief of Rheumatology at University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Penn RP Program.
Then, to officially kick off the event, we welcomed to the stage, Recording Artist and Performer, Denise Stefanie. Denise had recently written and recorded a music video titled “All In” in support of Race for RP. On this evening, she would unveil a newly edited, special-cut of the video featuring footage and highlights of Ferrari Challenge NA drivers and races in the 2021 season. It would provide the mesmerizing backdrop for her spectacular live performance of “All In,” which impressed the audience and surely inspired the drivers.
While attendees and guests enjoyed the fantastic setting, our Ferrari racing community mingled as we met and spoke with so many of our wonderful supporters and friends. Soon, we again turned everyone’s attention to the wide screen display for a special viewing of a five-minute video entitled, Driving for Hope. Hundreds of attendees were moved by poignant stories shared by patients with relapsing polychondritis, and learned more about the disease, autoimmunity, and the groundbreaking work being done at the Penn RP Center.
The evening was a success, and we are grateful for the opportunity to connect with so many people, update our followers on our progress, and discuss the importance of fundraising for RP and autoimmune disease research. Thank you, Denise Stefanie, for composing such an inspiring “call to action” anthem. Thank you to those who joined us at our Paddock Celebration and to those who facilitate research to improve the quality of life for patients with RP. Together with our partners and supporters, we’re going “All In” to accelerate RP and autoimmune disease research.
Road America Highlights
About Race for RP
Race for RP supports research and awareness programs for relapsing polychondritis and related diseases.
About the Relapsing Polychondritis Foundation
The RP Foundation’s purpose is to facilitate education, awareness and research initiatives that improve the quality of life for patients with RP. For more information, visit https://www.polychondritis.org.
About Relapsing Polychondritis
Relapsing polychondritis (RP) is a debilitating and sometimes fatal systemic inflammatory disease that is characterized by recurrent inflammation of cartilage and other tissues throughout the body. The disease affects multiple organs, particularly cartilaginous structures such as the ears, nose, airways and joints as well as eyes, skin, heart valves and brain. The cause of RP is unknown and there is no cure for RP.