Founded in 2002 by champion race car driver Darrell Gwynn, the Darrell Gwynn Foundation is a charitable organization whose mission is to provide support for people living with paralysis and to prevent spinal cord injuries. The foundation’s primary support program is its national Wheelchair Donation Program. With this program the Darrell Gwynn Foundation has donated custom built wheelchairs to hundreds of individuals in need. Their flagship fundraising event, a fishing tournament called Hot Rods and Reels, is held each year at the Homestead Miami Speedway on the infield lake.

This year the event was held on Saturday, November 15 and matched up NASCAR personalities with anglers and guides. Twenty boats were launched into the small lake stocked with largemouth and peacock bass. One of the anglers, Jerry, from Florida, said, “This is a great opportunity to fish with some of racing’s best for a great cause.” Jerry was fishing with Tony Stewart, one of NASCAR’s best known drivers. “I fish this tournament every year. I wouldn’t miss it,” Stewart said. And he is no slouch at fishing either. “I fish the infield at Daytona as well. There’s lots of big bass there. My biggest bass was a 10 ½ pound largemouth in Texas,” he said.

Richard Childress, owner of Childress Racing, is a veteran and past winner of this tournament. “We fish this tournament every year. It’s for a great cause. We have caught a lot of peacock bass out of this lake too, not as big as the peacocks in Brazil, but pretty good fish.” When asked about the largest fish he ever caught, Childress said, “Well, shoot, probably a marlin. Yeah, I caught a marlin with Dale Earnhardt one time on his boat.”

By the time the tournament started there was already friendly competition. NASCAR Driver Clint Bowyer accused Tony Stewart of stealing his fishing mojo as all the boats raced to the best spots. Ryan Newman, who no doubt was thinking about the next day’s chase for the Sprint Cup, took it all in stride by quietly hunting down a respectable largemouth bass. Bowyer responded with a nice peacock bass that would be in contention for the big fish award.

By the end of the two-hour event, almost every boat had fish to weigh in. The honors went to team Terri Knight and Kerry Earnhardt of Earnhardt Outdoors. Kerry, a driver and son of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, is no stranger to fishing. “My biggest fish is probably a largemouth about 12 ½ pounds. I caught a peacock bass here last year and caught some largemouth today, trying to mix it up a little.” Earnhardt credits his guide, Pro Angler Jason Young of Stick Marsh Fishing Guides for the win. “This is my second year fishing the tournament. Last year we got skunked, but this year Jason put us on the fish so this is a big improvement.”

The real winner of the event was a young fella’ named Lucas. He is a little boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy who has mobility problems. His older, outdated wheelchair wasn’t helping so the Darrell Gwynn Foundation presented him with a state of the art electric wheelchair designed just for him. Lucas was all smiles and after only a few minutes he seemed to handle the new ride like a NASCAR Champion. To find out more about the Darrell Gwynn Foundation, check out their website at http://darrellgwynnfoundation.org.