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Gruber Family Makes a Difference with Racing for a Cure Initiative

Monday, 15 November 2021

For the Gruber family, going the extra mile to help those in need means everything. A goal a then-14-year-old girl told to her father has turned into a yearly opportunity.

J.P. Gruber, along with his wife, has helped now-24-year-old Sarah provide a service from their 24-foot trailer at Quaker City Motorsports Park. Since she was 14, Sarah has wanted to help those in need at St. Jude. Showing interest, the dream quickly became a reality.

“Sarah saw some ads on TV when she was 14," J.P. stated. “She said to me, ‘I think we can help these kids.’ I said, ‘OK, whatever you say.’ A couple of days go by, and she tells me she is serious and that she wants to do something. That’s when I realized she really wasn’t messing around and we decided to pursue it. I then contacted our track owner, AJ Fox, and they gave us the go-ahead to do a fundraiser during the final race of the season in October, the Great Pumpkin Race.

“She saw that there were people out there that needed help and thought we were in a position to do what we could to help.”

For over ten years, the Gruber’s have raised over $36,000 with an average of around $3,000 to $4,000 per event. They made over $5,000 this time around.

What they have done is something they will never forget.

“It has been an awesome experience to know that our 24-foot trailer at a racetrack in Northeast Ohio has made a difference,” Gruber said. “Some of these fundraisers you hear on radio stations, they do hundreds of thousands of dollars. We are just selling charity raffle tickets out of the back of our trailer and people are happy and excited to donate.”

Not only do the Gruber’s provide a service, but they are also track enthusiasts. Sarah drives a 1969 Camaro and utilized it when she drove during the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals at Memphis International Raceway. Sarah made it to the second round and raced an old friend from Thompson Raceway. Getting a measure of revenge after they beat Sarah years back, Sarah advanced in eliminations, a true highlight for the family.

Involving current racers is key to the success of the initiative. Incentives like IHRA membership and prizes from contests make the opportunity worth it even more. This year's membership renewal went to Jesse Welcheck.

"It's easy for us to say 'yes' to helping in any small way we can," said IHRA Division Director Jon O'Neal. "The work that goes into an event like this behind the scenes is no small feat and I wish there was a way we could help more. It's often thankless and heartfelt work that J.P., Sarah, and the team put forth but the effect means such to those in need."

Along with being persistent, Gruber believes you must have a good relationship with track owners to get something like this done. Once you establish a relationship filled with trust, big or small, anything is possible.

The Gruber’s would love to tour St. Jude one day. In 2015 when Sarah qualified for the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals, they were close to entering the main building. They didn’t get to that day, but their goal is to make a difference on and off the track.

“It means a lot,” Gruber stated regarding the work he and his family have done. “Our donations may have helped a family make it longer than anticipated. Our goal is to eradicate childhood diseases. Everything counts, every little penny that Sarah collects counts.”

Last modified on Monday, 15 November 2021