Tribute Car on display at St. Vincent's in Little Rock

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (December 10, 2007) - The car that was driven by Mike Ashley over 327 mph to victory at the Mac Tools NHRA U.S. Nationals will be on display Tuesday and Wednesday, December 11 and 12 at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center in Little Rock. Given the title "Purpose beyond Reason," the car is part of fund-raising efforts of the Eric Blake Faulkner Foundation, and after its display will be taken to Scottsdale, Ariz. to be auctioned in mid-January at the Barrett-Jackson Classic Auto Auction with the funds raised earmarked for the Perinatal Bereavement Program at St. Vincent Hospital.

The tragic death of a child cannot be soon forgotten, and while parents often struggle to make sense of their grief, they rarely get the opportunity to change the world as a result of their pain. Little Rock, Ark. residents Donnie and Hollie Faulkner have found a way to give back in just such circumstances.

The Faulkners are the proprietors of the traveling Oakley merchandising trailer that supports the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, and are an integral part of the family-centric experience of NHRA drag racing. Their son, Eric Blake Faulkner, was stillborn on May 24, 2007, and the experience pushed the couple beyond their limits. Were it not for the "angelic support" of the staff of St. Vincent's, the couple said they would not have survived with their sanity. Determined to turn tragedy into something positive, they created the Eric Blake Faulkner Foundation to help others faced with a similar situation.

Support throughout the community has been immense, and Evan Knoll, owner of drag racing sponsor Torco Racing Fuels and a father himself, sought to find a way to help his friends Donnie and Hollie. It was late one evening when Donnie Faulkner's phone rang, and on the other end was Knoll, asking, "Donnie, how can I help?"

With planning, the vision started to take shape, and the next call was to nitro Funny Car driver Mike Ashley who was chosen to drive the tribute car at the biggest race on the NHRA schedule - the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

The weekend unfolded into a story worthy of Hollywood as Ashley and the Chip Foose-designed special-edition Eric Blake Faulkner Foundation Tribute Car won round after round, finally ending in the Winner's Circle at the venerable event.

"There is no greater loss than to lose a child and it's truly been an honor to support this cause," Ashley said. "It's a storybook ending to something so tragic, and a pure example of how to find purpose when the facts and details don't seem to add up.

"Donnie and Hollie are such amazing people, and, along with Evan who donated his sponsorship of the car at the biggest event of the year, they each are an example of selfless giving and real love for life," he said.

After the victory in Indianapolis, the car was taken to Las Vegas and the Barrett-Jackson display in the annual SEMA mega-tradeshow. Next, the car journeyed to Orlando Fla. and the Performance Racing Industry tradeshow last week. Its final stop before crossing the auction block in Scottsdale is Dec. 11 and 12 at the St. Vincent Infirmary Medical in Little Rock.

Ashley will be part of a call-in radio show from 6 to 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, Dec. 11 on local station KSSN 96 FM. Donnie Faulkner is scheduled to appear on local television station KTHV's morning show along with the Perinatal Bereavement Coordinator Lynette Spruiell.

Spruiell, LPN, leads the program which has trained a team of more than 40 team including nurses, management, chaplains, and social workers. She became the coordinator of the program in 2000, and implemented the early loss program and many other components of our support services. She and other members of the team are trained and certified in bereavement support through RTS Bereavement Services of La Crosse, WI.

In addition to Knoll and Torco, support for the Tribute Car includes Ashley, who is donating a rolling chassis and coordinating the project; Jim Jannard, founder of Oakley and Red, a sponsor of Ashley's and longtime friend of the Faulkners; Chip Foose, the legendary auto designer who directed the design and worked with Mark Adkins and the team at Illusions Custom Paint and Body of Bristol, Tenn. to create the one-of-a-kind paint scheme; Valspar, who has donated all the paint for the project; MOPAR, who has donated a 2007 Dodge Charger R/T body specifically for the project; Phoenix Custom Apparel; and MAC Tools, the title sponsor of the U.S. Nationals, who donated a complete rolling toolbox painted to match the original FOOSE design. Other contributors to the project include Phoenix Custom Apparel and Impact Racing Products.

The car is headed to the auction block at the world famous Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, to be held January 12-20, 2008 in Scottsdale, Ariz. The auction is known as for being a strong supporter of children's charities, raising $4.16 million for charity in 2006.

Donnie Faulkner said, "I can't change what happened, but I can help others get through it. Hollie and I have made it our purpose to remember Eric and help other couples that suffer the way we have. It was the most terrible thing we ever went through, but both Hollie and I believe that everything happens for a reason. We don't understand it, but we can make something positive come out of it."

-credit: gcr