The longevity of a memorial event is usually dependent on the effort of organizers and the support of a community, but also on the impact that the remembered person had on the lives of those who knew them.
The Lindsey Callaway Race for Kids will be held at Alien City Dragway Saturday. The annual race, which has been held in various cities throughout the region over the years, was held in Roswell last year when Lindsey’s parents, Rick and Tracy Callaway, decided to get back into track management.
Lindsey Callaway worked at the track, handing out time slips to drivers while her parents managed the race. Many racers still say it’s tough to come down the return road to pick up their slip and not see the bright, smiling blonde.
In her hometown of Dexter, the powerhouse softball team, most of which were not yet born when Lindsey succumbed to cancer, put Lindsey’s name on their state championship rings. A memorial softball tourney is held each year and the Lindsey Callaway Award is presented at the end of the year to an athlete that exhibits the kind of attitude, ability and leadership that Lindsey was known for.
“Lindsey touched a lot of lives,” her father said. “I talked to some folks in Hobbs who were involved with the Toy Race in the beginning. They call it the Lindsey Race.”
The event attracts racers of all classes and experience levels from all over New Mexico and West Texas, which means a great show on the strip. But the real goal of the event is to collect toys, clothes, money and other items for the young patients at Covenant Children’s Hospital in Lubbock, Texas, the same facility where Lindsey was treated years ago.
Rick Callaway, whose daughter Jessie Orr was a pediatric nurse at Covenant, said the act of giving a child, or even a young adult, a small toy or book during a difficult day at the hospital cannot truly be measured.
“I know from going through it with Lindsey that when it’s time to draw blood or some other procedure, it’s tough,” he said. “If you can bring them something to take their mind off what’s happening for just a minute, it makes it much easier.”
Lindsey passed away in January of 2001, and since December of that year, the Callaways have organized the Lindsey Callaway Memorial Toy Drive, which has raised $387,000 in toys and monetary donations. Rick Callaway hopes to reach the $400,000 mark this year.
“We can’t compete with major companies and corporations when it comes to spending a lot of money on cancer research,” he said. “Of course we know that 90 percent of cancer research funds go to administration costs. With our toy drive, everything goes to the kids. It’s a grassroots effort, just like the racing at Alien City.”
Callaway said Bevin England, director of development for the Covenant Foundation, will be on hand Saturday to speak at the drivers’ meeting before time trials get underway.
“Bevin has been working with us over the last few years and she’s a great speaker,” he said. “She’s gonna give the racers a better idea of the impact that they’ve made on the kids at Covenant.”
As usual, gates will open at 1 p.m., but Callaway said the pace will be slower, to allow cars to cool down in the expected 100-plus temperatures, and push the eliminations to a little later in the afternoon/early evening, when the air should cool off a bit.
”The racing will go into the night, and we are expecting a beautiful night for racing, with no wind,” he said. “If a person wants to come out around 5:30 or 6 p.m. when it’s cooling off, there will still be plenty of show to see.”
The box and no box classes will each have a $2,000 winner’s purse, with an extra $1,000 on top of that if they bring a toy to donate. There will also be a Quick 8 class featuring cars that run the eighth-mile strip in 5.5 to 6.5 seconds, and a Quicker 8 class for 4.5- to 5.49-second cars.
The Jr. Dragster class, which should feature 10-12 racers from around the region, will have a $100 purse ($300 with a toy donation), but the real prize for the top young racer will be the coveted “Nano” alien trophy, a one of a kind item for any trophy case.
Alien City will be open Friday night for Test ‘N’ Tune with gates opening at 6 p.m. Driver entry fee is $25.
Driver entry for Saturday is $75 for box and no box and $25 for Jr. Dragsters. Quick 8 and Quicker 8 entrants must bring a toy. Toys should be valued at $15 or greater.
Spectator entry for either day is $10 and kids 12 and under get in free. There will be a toy collection area near the track tower.
Callaway said this will be the last Toy Race, at least for the foreseeable future, so he hopes anyone who might be thinking about skipping it will show up for a final hurrah.
”There’s more racers from Roswell coming that haven’t been racing lately and it’s all because of the cause,” he said. “They know it’s very sentimental to us, but it’s also important to them. They remember Lindsey at the E.T. shack. It makes them feel good to come out and be a part of it, and it makes us feel good to see familiar faces we haven’t seen in a while. When they say, ‘I wouldn’t miss this race,’ that means a lot.”
Lindsey Callaway led the kind of life that inspires people to do good things. She was vivacious, caring and super-positive. She was the epitome of the drag racing community — a group that supports each other and can be counted on to show up for a good cause, and a good time.