Yellow More Than A Color For Ft Lauderdale’s Hunter-Reay

Ryan Hunter-Reay with wife Beccy and family at Indianapolis. [Russ Lake Photo]

Ryan Hunter-Reay with wife Beccy and family at Indianapolis.  [Russ Lake Photo]


Indianapolis—Ryan Hunter-Reay drives the No. 28 DHL Dallara/Honda for Andretti Motorsports in the INDYCAR series. He won the ultimate prize for an American race car driver one year ago here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway—the Indy 500.

In a rain-shortened Pole Day on Saturday, Hunter-Reay turned the fastest qualifying laps, at 229.845 mph, to become the provisional pole-sitter going into a Sunday shoot-out for the honor of leading the race’s 33-strong start.

But racing against the on-track competition isn’t the only foe the Ft Lauderdale, FL resident is competing against.

Hunter-Reay’s mother Lydia died of colon cancer in 2009, and the experience moved him to action.

Hunter-Reay is convincingly the most accomplished of all the American racers involved in INDYCAR. He’s led more than a thousand laps in his career, won the Indy Rookie of the Year award, took the INDYCAR series championship in 2012 and won the Indianapolis 500 in 2014—the first American to drink the milk in Victory Lane since Sam Hornish in 2006.

With his likeness on the BorgWarner trophy, Hunter-Reay could have settled into a life of glorious celebration, spent his money on fast cars and big yachts, chased his wildest dreams and no one would have complained.

Instead, the Dallas-born 34-year old retrenched in good, old-fashioned, caring about people.

He started a foundation called Racing for Cancer.

He put the No. 28 on his car to acknowledge the 28 million people fighting cancer worldwide.

He put his personal fame to work raising money to battle the disease that took his mother’s life.

He dreamed of helping to find a cure for this deadly disease.

“Racing for Cancer started with my partner, Tom Vossman, in 2010,” he said. “We really got going when we partnered with Auto Nation.”

The Florida-based parts company matched contributions, every dollar.

“Cancer is a massive problem,” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s just affected too many people not to get involved in fighting it. We use motorsports to do that.”

Six months ago Ryan-Hunter Reay delivered a gift of $2.5 million to the new cancer center under construction in Weston, Florida. In turn, the Cleveland Clinic (whose doctors will staff the center) named the lobby area, the place where families meet as they enter and leave, for Lydia Hunter-Reay.

“The cancer center is a ‘state-of-the-art’ facility,” said Ryan. “It will be able to treat cancer more efficiently and more effectively than anyplace in the world.”

“I wanted to put the money right on the front-lines rather than basic research,” he continued. “I wanted to see results.”

The money was raised in part by “Yellow Parties” that move from city-to-city with the INDYCAR series, and that are hosted by Hunter-Reay or his wife Beccy. The reference, obviously, is to the bright yellow paint job of the DHL car.

“We have a ‘Yellow Party’ again this year—May 21st at the Indiana State Museum (in downtown Indianapolis),” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s our fifth for the Indianapolis 500.”

Lydia Hunter-Reay was 55 when she died, her body filled with tumors as big as baseballs.

She lives on as inspiration to a racing champion—and savior to millions of cancer patients everywhere.



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