TOYOTA RACING UNVEILS SPONSAFIER 3 GRAND PRIZE WINNER “Chelsea’s Hope” Drives Awareness for Lafora Disease Charlotte, N.C. (May 20, 2011) – Toyota Racing today awarded the grand prize to “Chelsea’s Hope” in the third round of its popular Sponsafier contest— where fans could design and enter their own NASCAR Sprint Cup car at www.ToyotaRacing.com from Feb. 14 to March 20, 2011.
The design, created by Tim Blankenship of Berkley Springs, W.Va., triumphed over more than 45,000 entries. A No. 11 Toyota Camry featuring the “Chelsea’s Hope” artwork was unveiled today in the Toyota PitPass area at Charlotte Motor Speedway and will be on display for the remainder of the All-Star Race weekend. Sponsafier 3 was introduced with the 60 second “Bromance” TV commercial featuring Kyle Busch during this year’s Daytona 500 broadcast. Two additional TV commercials included Toyota drivers Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin, with appearances by Joe Gibbs, Darrell Waltrip and Martin Truex Jr. Because this year’s contest raised the stakes with the opportunity for one lucky fan to receive a visit from his or her favorite Toyota NASCAR driver away from the race track, each commercial documented a fan’s wild daydreams about what they would do with their favorite driver.
“Interest from fans in the Sponsafier program has exceeded our expectations,” said Ed Laukes, corporate motorsports marketing manager for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. (TMS). We’ve received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from fans, and our Toyota drivers have really enjoyed being part of the program. We would like to thank all the fans for their submissions and encourage everyone to stay tuned for the next phase of Sponsafier.” To participate for a chance to win this unique prize, fans could create as many designs as they wished utilizing tools from the all-new, redesigned site. They were encouraged to share their work on social networking sites to rally votes from friends, family and admirers of their designs. After more than 220,000 votes were cast to narrow the field down to the top-10 finalists, a panel of Toyota executives and NASCAR personalities selected “Chelsea’s Hope” as the grand prize winner. The car design is named for the Chelsea’s Hope Organization which serves to raise awareness, promote education and provide emotional support for individuals and families affected by Lafora Disease. Lafora Disease is an inherited myoclonus epilepsy syndrome typically caused by mutations in one of two known genes: EMP2A and EMP2B. This rare disease affects children and young adults and is characterized by seizures, difficulty walking, cognitive decline and dementia. Currently there is no effective treatment, as therapy—including antiepilectic drugs—is supportive but symptomatic.
Blakenship created the “Chelsea’s Hope” paint scheme to generate national awareness in honor of Jessica Ambroe, from Pittsburgh, Pa., who was diagnosed with Lafora Disease in Feb. 2009 at the age of 15. There are only 200 known cases of Lafora Disease in the world, 20 of which have been diagnosed in the United States, and research has yet to yield a cure. “I wanted to design a car with real meaning behind it and help these kids have the chance to make their rare disease known, so that hopefully, with national exposure, they will be able to raise the funds needed to find a cure,” said Blankenship. “I am very grateful and honored to accept this win on behalf of the real winners: the Chelsea’s Hope Organization and the kids who deal with Lafora Disease everyday.”
As the grand prize winner, Blankenship’s paint scheme was brought to life and will be showcased both at Toyota PitPass and on SPEED during the All-Star Weekend. He will also receive a prize pack of Toyota Racing gear and enjoy time with Denny Hamlin, his favorite Toyota NASCAR driver. “The whole Sponsafier program has been a lot of fun to be a part of, and a great way for race fans to design how a car looks,” said Hamlin, who drives a Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. It really enables race fans to promote causes that are important to them. It’s neat that my No. 11 Camry was selected as the winning Sponsafier design — for the second time since the promotion began last year. Hopefully, the ‘Chelsea’s Hope’ design will bring attention and awareness to Lafora Disease, and I’m glad to be a part of it.” To view “Chelsea’s Hope” and the all of the designs in the gallery, visit www.ToyotaRacing.com.
About Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of more than 1,500 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers which sold more than 1.77 million vehicles in 2009. Toyota directly employs more than 30,000 people in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion.