Chili Pepper Racing: Racing for Charity
The ROI is out of this world
By Kate Shaw
TORONTO, Canada (January 17, 2005) – We have all heard too many times that racing is ‘all about money’, that Return On Investment (ROI), not racing and loving it, is king. Dr. Jim Osborn of Chili Pepper Racing begs to differ with that point of view. To him and to the other members of Chili Pepper Racing, racing is all about, well, racing, and ROI is the joy they find in the money they can raise for charity.
Chili Pepper Racing is all about combining two things they enjoy into one. The red BMW 325Ci cars of Chili Pepper Racing are well known among the World Challenge Touring Car fans and their fans are the most loyal in the series. The team has made some big changes on the track in 2005. They recently teamed up with Autosport Development in the GT class to run side by each with Stu Hayner in a brand new Pontiac GTO.
“It should be very exciting developing this car. Stu has been a friend for a long time and he is so professional and knowledgeable. I couldn’t ask for a better team-mate.” Chili Pepper Racing will still be a separate team with its crew members joining forces with the Autosport Development team. The Osborn family were always GM drivers, and coming home to Pontiac is something he’s very much enjoying. Racing in the Speed World Challenge is fun at Chili Pepper Racing, and the fact is that they got into it for both the fun of racing and the good that they can do.
“My brother John, and I,” said Dr. Osborn, “have been very fortunate in our lives, and we have always tried to give back to our community.” Although he raced in SCCA Solo in the early 1980s while still in college, it wasn’t until he finished his medical training at ‘almost 40’ that he began to think about getting into professional road racing. “During a family vacation at Hilton Head, South Carolina, John and I were talking about racing and cars, and we decided to move into the professional racing arena, and because of the level of financial and time commitment that would require, we decided to use our team to promote the charities most dear to us: Remote Area Medicine and the Light House Family Retreat.
These two charities have very low overheads, and since we were going racing anyway, this would make it possible for us to promote these charities at absolutely no cost to them. All the money we raise goes directly into the bank accounts of the charities, and they are able to put around 90% of the money directly into helping people.”
I asked Dr. Osborn how the team decided to race in the Speed World Challenge, and I’d like you all to know that the series has no more enthusiastic supporter than he. “The Speed World Challenge has the ultimate in drivers and teams,” he said. “They are all so committed to racing and to putting on a great show. Off track they are truly great people who, although they have lives and problems of their own, are always willing to donate precious time and hard-earned dollars to help out the people that need it.”
A primary example of this would be the Annual Post Petit Le Mans Motorcycle Ride for Charity, which in 2004 raised nearly $16,000.00—double what they raised the year before—and included 25 drivers and crew from the ALMS and Speed World Challenge, both on the motorcycles and behind the scenes.
This year’s Ride will be held on October 2, 2005, and will include drivers and crew from GARRA as well as the ALMS and SWC, plus motorcycle riders like you. It starts with a lap of the Road Atlanta track and then heads out over the twisty roads of North Georgia, finishing back at the track. Entry is $150.00, and every cent goes to the charities—all administrative costs are borne by Chili Pepper Racing. Their goal for 2005 is to raise $30,000 for Melinda Mayton and the Light House Family Retreat (see sidebar). All of this is made possible not only by the help and assistance of the racing teams, but most of all by the owners, management and staff of Road Atlanta.
“We really couldn’t do it without the SCCA staff and the SPEED World Challenge teams,” said Dr. Osborn. “And we’d especially like to mention Road Atlanta staff members Marnie Lincoln, Geoff Lee and Earl Fannin, who, along with others at Road Atlanta, always kick it up a notch for us. They’re quick to do whatever it takes to make this Ride a success. The Light House Family Retreat kids brighten our day too, even after an untimely spin in Turn 1 … “
Finally, Jim Osborn would like to share the credit for Chili Pepper Racing with his brother John, his Crew Chief, Chief Mechanic and best friend, without whom the whole undertaking would have been much more difficult. “John is the best,” he said unequivocally. “We wouldn’t be here without him. And his wife Laurie, who has put up with us since 4th or 5th grade, is pretty special too!”
So look for the new and improved Chili Pepper Racing in 2005, coming to a Speed World Challenge track near you, and stop by their paddock when you’re there – not only to check out that beautiful new Pontiac GTO, but to find out more about all the good work they do and what you can do to join in. The brothers Osborn and all of Chili Pepper Racing will make sure you’re glad you did!
Registration forms for the Post-Petit Motorcycle Ride are available at the Chili Pepper Racing paddock, or on line at [insert urls for Chili Pepper Racing, Road Atlanta and RFM Sports]. Donations to either charity are gratefully received at the paddock or by contacting the team through the website.
Kate Shaw is the editor of RFM Sports, a website devoted to ALMS, Le Mans, Champ Cars, Speed World Challenge, Sprint Boats and Trans Am. She lives in Toronto and, together with Managing Editor Jim DeFord, covers most of North America during the season, as well as Le Mans, where she’ll be on an international media panel to choose the best sports car driver of 2004.