SOUTHINGTON - Famous NASCAR driver Joey Logano paid a visit to town Thursday, golfing at Southington Country Club and then visiting with fans while auctioning off racing memorabilia at the Aqua Turf Club - all to benefit charitable foundations.
The Middletown-born racing star raised the money as part of his annual Driving Hope Home campaign. The money goes to support the Joey Logano Foundation, The Connection's foster care program and The Ronald McDonald House of Connecticut. Logano's namesake foundation, established in 2013, provides money for children with illnesses, military families and community development. It has donated $2,195,029 to 105 organizations in 28 states.
Memorabilia for the auction included signed racing helmets, steering wheels, pistons, shredding racing tires, racing uniforms and much more.
"I've brought a lot of unique stuff, each with their own story or joke behind it," said Logano.
While some fans browsed these items inside the banquet facility at 556 Mulberry St., others posed for photos with Logano's racecar parked outside.
Julie Polansky and her 15-year-old son Nick drove from Vernon to meet Logano and volunteer at the golf tournament. Nick came dressed in a shirt with Logano's car number, 22, as well as matching socks. He carried with him two models of Logano's car to autograph.
"I like the sound of his car and that he came from Middletown," said Nick. "I have been watching him since I met him when I was 5. I like how he remembers me every time he sees me."
Logano said he loves to meet the fans.
"They don't have races in Connecticut and not a lot of families get the chance to go out of state," he said. "It is fun to meet those fans."
As for the golf tournament, Logano said that this year's went "really well."
"This is our biggest fundraiser and it’s the third golf tournament we've had in Connecticut," he said. "There were a lot more people than last time - we're lucky it didn't rain."
Logano said that he established his foundation as a way to thank the community.
"It's my way of giving back after I was given so much," he said. "It seemed to me to be the right thing to do. My wife Brittany and I are drawn to kids who have been dealt a bad hand. They have been living in foster homes, put into the system without the right tools they need to become contributing members of society. We want to help them by providing role models and stop them from going hungry with the hope that it will change their path ahead."
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.