V8 Supercars Australia has announced that it will make a $100,000 cash donation to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, and has urged fans of the sport to follow suit.

V8 Supercar chairman Tony Cochrane revealed that the Board has committed to the appeal through the cash donation and also offered any additional support it can provide.

"These are already hard times for everybody but for the people who have lost family, friends and possessions it is absolutely devastating," he said. "We have more than 1600 people who work fulltime in our sport and more than half of these are based in Victoria. There are numerous people affected by this in our sport in one way or another.

"As a sport we are doing what we can with this donation and the other initiatives announced today. We urge our fan base throughout Australia to contribute to this extremely worthwhile cause."

V8 Supercars Australia CEO Cameron Levick added that all proceeds from an annual test day at Winton Motor Raceway on 9 March will also be donated to the relief fund, while Queensland Raceway, which has a test day on 11 March, will donate all gate takings to the North Queensland Flood Appeal.

"We have a vast legion of loyal and dedicated fans with Victoria a heartland of V8 Supercars," he said said. "We appeal to our fans Australia-wide to get behind their friends in the sport."

The bushfires have hit areas where many members of the Championship teams have friends and relatives - directly affecting one member of the V8 Supercar family who lost all of his possessions including the family farm and business. Many Victorian based teams have rallied behind their colleague and organised a team of people to help him rebuild his business and farm in the coming months.

V8 Supercar Champion Jamie Whincup has also thrown his weight behind the cause by adding $1000 to the tally and has urged his on-track rivals to do the same.

"I started my racing career at the kart club only 10 minutes from Kinglake," the Team Vodafone ace said. "Personally I am in a state of shock - having grown up only 15 minutes from the Whittlesea Relief Centre; I enjoyed much of my recreational time in the Kinglake district and have many of my relatives, friends and fans located in the fire affected area.

"I have today personally donated $1,000 to the appeal and call upon my fellow V8 Supercar drivers to match that amount. If we can all do this that will equate to an additional $30,000 on top of the $100,000 V8 Supercars have donated as our sports governing body.

"It doesn't matter whether you are a high profile athlete like myself or the local postman - it is our duty to band together and help ease the hurt and suffering of our fellow Australians. Anything you can do - no matter how big or small - will go some way towards helping ease their pain and hardship."

The official death toll in the bushfires stands at more than 180, with around 500 people having been injured and nearly 1,000 homes destroyed.

Police have already started investigations into some of the fires which are believed to have been started deliberately - something Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said would account to 'murder on a grand scale'.



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