© Jamey Price Photo

© Jamey Price Photo

Thursday night in Austin, and a queue around the corner at The Speakeasy on Congress Avenue. I’ve got to say, even before the 2013 Buxton’s BigTime Bash started I was blown away.

For the second consecutive year, fans, friends and Formula 1 nuts gathered in Austin for a party designed to kick off the race weekend by giving something back to the fans, and raising money for charity and giving something back to the local community here in Austin. The event had been planned to the very last detail by the fabulous Kerri Olsen from The Austin Grand Prix http://www.theaustingrandprix.com, and once again benefitted the great folks at Meals on Wheels and More, Austin.

 © Jamey Price Photo

© Jamey Price Photo

Unlike our first year we asked for a small donation of $5 on the door, or whatever anyone could afford, and with that everyone was given one raffle ticket. Formula 1 teams, sponsors, clients and friends were incredibly generous and donated some brilliant prizes for a charity raffle, and right now I want to thank Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Ferrari, Caterham F1 Team, Tim Bampton and Aurelie Donzelot from the amazing JMI International, TW STEEL, Sahara Force India, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, The Lotus F1 Team, Sauber F1 Team, Mercedes AMG F1 Team and Lewis Hamilton, Karun Chandhok, Haggar Co and Codemasters. (I hope I haven’t missed anyone out.)

Gil de Ferran salutes the crowd © Jamey Price Photo

Gil de Ferran salutes the crowd © Jamey Price Photo

Hundreds of fans turned up and rubbed shoulders with folks from the F1 and wider motorsports paddocks, many of whom agreed to take to the stage, engage in some great banter with the crowd and hand out the prizes. The crowd welcomed my NBCSN colleagues Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett, future F1 stars and Force India reserve drivers Conor Daly and James Calado were on fabulous form and Lotus F1’s overlooked superman in waiting Davide Valsecchi popped down on his way to dinner to say hi and meet with folks who mostly just wanted to give him a hug. The star turn of the night came from all round racing legend Gil de Ferran however, who came straight from the airport and regaled the crowd with fabulous stories and great humour. I’d like to thank them all for giving their time to attend.

© Jamey Price Photo

© Jamey Price Photo

I also have to thank The Speakeasy for allowing us to host the event at their fabulous bar without charge, and to the frankly amazing Continuums for being a truly awesome band and keeping everyone jumping late into the night with both their own songs and some rock classics. You can’t go wrong by breaking the Led out. Also huge thanks to Jamey Price, a hugelt talented young American motorsport photographer who covered the event for free.

Everyone giving of their time so freely and generously meant that every cent raised on the night could go straight to charity and I am delighted to say that the takings on the door amassed a simply fabulous $4560.

However, thanks to the incredible generosity of the Berber Family and The Glimmer of Hope Foundation, and the Garber family, whom I am delighted to know and call friends, a pledge was made to match every penny raised. As such, the total was trebled, and I and Kerri are delighted to announce that $13,680 will go direct to Meals on Wheels and More.

The generosity of this paddock, of the city of Austin of which I am proud to have been named an Honorary Citizen, the incredible people of this city and state, the amazing fans who turned out and I hope had a great night, and to two incredible families means that the lives of the homebound and other people in need in Austin will be helped through programs that promote dignity and independent living, as is the mission statement of Meals on Wheels and more. The total raised will provide 5472 meals for those in need.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you all.

© Jamey Price Photo

© Jamey Price Photo

For more information on Meals on Wheels and More, please visit http://www.mealsonwheelsandmore.org/