The saying 'charity begins at home' doesn't apply to NASCAR racing.
More apt, in a sport that's constantly on the move, charity begins on the road.
You might think the ban on testing at NASCAR tracks would give Sprint Cup drivers an extra portion of free time. You'd be wrong. Take Kevin Harvick: In the days leading up to the Samsung 500 earlier this month at Texas Motor Speedway, you would not have found a hole in his schedule.
Harvick drives the #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Coincidentally, race week at Fort Worth coincided with the Shell Houston Open PGA Tour stop, four hours away. Harvick managed to participate in both, though he never hit a golf shot.
On pro-am day at Redstone Golf Club, the host course for the tournament, while four of his over-the-wall pit crew members were halfway through the front nine, Harvick was miles away, at Fall Creek Elementary School, for a ribbon cutting.
Shell volunteers had planted trees there and unveiled plans for a new playground and park through the community's SPARK School Park Program. This particular project represented a cooperative effort among Shell Oil Company, the Houston Golf Association, Fall Creek parents and students, and the Humble Independent School District.
“Texas doesn't fund any of the playgrounds in the public communities, so basically SPARK comes in, and Shell was a big contributor to this particular playground,” Harvick said. “They donated around $100,000 just for this particular playground, and that doesn't even scratch the surface. Through the golf tournament over the years, they've raised around $45 million for the local community.
“Whether it's a Boys & Girls Club or a golf tournament or just being responsible on the Pennzoil side and learning how to teach people to recycle their oil correctly, it's something Shell is a big part of. They get a lot of grief sometimes about being a big oil company, but sometimes they don't get enough credit for the small things they do throughout the communities and the time that they spend making sure that they're welcome within those communities.”
After the school visit, Harvick appeared in the media center at Redstone and fielded questions from reporters in a milieu markedly different from his usual field of play.
“I'm not a huge golfer, but, obviously, everybody there was very receptive to having us there,” he said. “In the end, it's still a sporting event and still a lot of competitors that want to win or lose that are interested in your world. You know you're a little bit curious about their world. Definitely something that was different for me, but it's always different to see how other sports do things.”
Asked why he didn't join his crewmen in the pro-am, Harvick gave a frank assessment of his golf game.
“It's not pretty - it's ugly,” he said.
by Reid Spencer/Sporting News