After their world was turned upside down a little over a year ago, Jacob and Brittany Hawkins decided to do what many grieving parents do: try to turn a terrible tragedy into something that could benefit others.
The way they are doing it is quite unique.
The Hawkins’ eldest son, Elijah, lost his life during a house fire on July 4, 2021. This Saturday, just three days before what would have been Elijah’s 10th birthday, they will honor him by sponsoring the first “Elijah Hawkins Memorial” annual. speed car race at Lincoln Speedway.
But it does not stop there.
Last weekend, a silent auction was held during Saturday night’s racing action, with dozens of racing items donated by local and national speed car teams up for auction. Organized by the Hawkins family, the auction items included signed wing panels, gloves and visors; framed photos; T-shirts and other apparel (including the official jersey of a Donny Schatz team member); a pair of championship trophies from Brian Montieth and Donnie Krietz, Jr.; and a checkered flag autographed by more than 30 drivers.
And what’s amazing is that all the money they’re collecting goes back to the drivers.
“All of these things were donated by drivers,” Jacob said of the plethora of items available for bidding on Saturday. “(Lincoln co-owner) Jerry Parrish has done an amazing job calling drivers for donations. Now it’s all part of this silent auction, with all proceeds going towards next week’s race purse.”
The plan is for this weekend’s 410 feature to pay $7,000 to win and $700 to start, and if the money raised by the silent auction exceeds that, any extra money will go towards next year’s race.
every penny Returned to drivers.
“Lincoln Speedway would like to thank all the race teams that donated items for the silent auction and the sponsors of this event. Many people volunteered their time to make this possible,” began a statement issued by the circuit on Wednesday.
“The best thing about this event is that it gives back to the race teams that supported this cause. It’s great to be able to remember a child who enjoyed the same sport we all love. This is going to be a great event and we invite everyone to come and help us remember this young man.”
Using the racing platform to honor his son was a no-brainer.
“We’re very big at drag racing and have been for years,” Brittany said. “Honestly, ever since he was a little kid, he loved drag racing. So we thought we needed to do something to keep the memory of him alive and also to help speed car racing.”
Elijah was an active kid who enjoyed baseball and bowling, but most of all he loved drag racing. Some of his most enjoyable moments were being in the pits and “working” on the cars of some of his favorite drivers. Landon Myers and Dan Shetler were two the Hawkins have been especially close to. Others Elijah encouraged included Chase Dietz, Brent Marks, and Kyle Larson.
And now some of those same pilots will benefit from the Hawkins’ legwork.
“We’ve had a lot of support from our community (since the fire),” Jacob said. “The racing family, our bowling family, and we felt now was the time to give back.”
For Jacob and Brittany of West York, there is still healing to be done. Her other son, Evan, now 8, was injured in the fire but has mostly recovered. There are constant reminders. And there are the memories.
This weekend there will be new memories made on the clay court oval. That will help with the healing process. As well as knowing that you are helping your child’s heroes.
Racing is an expensive sport. Costs are higher than ever. Parts are often in short supply. Coming out even, let alone making a profit, is rare, even for the teams with the deepest pockets or the most sponsors.
So consider doing like the Hawkins family. Help out a local racing team by buying a t-shirt. Donate a case of water or a gift card to a racing team. Even a roll of quarters to help with the car wash is appreciated by crews on tight budgets.
And when you do, do it for a racing fan you love. Or in memory of a young racing fan named Elijah who touched many lives.