Patrón Highcroft Racing is ready for its race debut in the LMP1 class in the American Le Mans Series, but the Danbury, CT-based team has also joined the race to save lives from malaria, a preventable disease that kills a child in Africa every 30 seconds.
The Acura sports car squad and its partners have teamed up with Malaria No More, a non-profit organization working to end malaria deaths in Africa by providing access to malaria prevention and treatment tools-including life-saving mosquito nets-by the end of 2010.
Malaria is a disease of the blood, transmitted from person to person by certain types of mosquitoes. Although eradicated in the United States more than 50 years ago, the disease kills almost one million people every year - most of them young children in Africa.
However, a simple $10 mosquito net can protect two children or a mother and baby, reducing the spread of the disease, saving lives and keeping families intact.
To help combat the problem, Patrón Highcroft Racing and Malaria No More are launching the "Miles to End Malaria" campaign. This new fundraising effort will allow race fans to join forces with the team to tackle the disease.
Patrón Highcroft Racing will kick off the fundraising efforts by donating five dollars for every mile the team completes in the 2009 race season - approximately 4,500 miles - to Malaria No More. That contribution has been matched by the team's sponsor Tequila Patrón - providing a starting point of $10 per mile.
Every mile sends another mosquito net to a family in Africa, protecting them from the bite of a malaria mosquito.
Races fans will be able to join the race to save lives by visiting www.milestoendmalaria.org and donating as little as a penny per mile to the cause.
"We have a big year ahead of us graduating to the LMP1 division with Acura. Every mile we complete will be very important in achieving our goal of challenging for the championship, but now every mile will be even more vital," Patrón Highcroft Racing team owner, Duncan Dayton said.
"The more we learned about malaria and the damage it caused on a global scale, the more we wanted to help - especially considering that a simple $10 mosquito can make a huge difference.
"Another child dies in Africa every 30 seconds from malaria. So during the Twelve Hours of Sebring - that's nearly 1,500 children. It really is staggering, especially considering the disease is preventable.
"We hope by launching Miles to End Malaria and displaying the Malaria No More logo on our Acura ARX-02a racecar, we can not only raise important funds for this cause, but also educate fans about the disease.
"We are also delighted that Patrón will join us in this very important initiative."
Patrón Highcroft Racing will contest the 2009 American Le Mans Series with ex-Formula 1 driver and sportscar ace David Brabham and former Indy 500 pole sitter and IRL race winner, Scott Sharp joining forces behind the wheel.
Brabham and Sharp will be accompanied by 2007 Indy 500 and IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti this week for the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The American Le Mans Series is a major international sportscar series styled after the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.
The 10-race championship kicks off at the Twelve Hours of Serbing in Florida on March 21 and includes events in St. Petersburg, FL (street course); Long Beach, CA (street course); Salt Lake City, UT (Miller Motorsports Park); Lakeville, CT (Lime Rock Park); Lexington, OH (Mid Ohio Sports Car Course); Elkhart Lake, WI (Road America); Bowmanville, ON, Canada (Mosport International Raceway); Braselton, GA (Road Atlanta) and Monterey, CA (Laguna Seca).
Malaria No More was established in December 2006 to maximize every available opportunity to save lives through breakthrough communications, leveraged resources and strategic investments.
Malaria No More's direct investments have helped mobilize 15 million mosquito nets to protect 30 million African mothers and their children from malaria. It has galvanized support across the globe for malaria control efforts and partners with some of the world's leading global health organizations to have the greatest possible impact.
"Malaria No More is racing to end malaria deaths and every second counts," said Malaria No More CEO Scott Case. "That's why we're proud to partner with the Patrón Highcroft Racing team to launch 'Miles to End Malaria'- inviting the sportscar community to count every mile as another victory against malaria."
The Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a hit the track this morning in Sebring for the start of official practice for the opening race of the year.
The Miles to End Malaria program will be officially unveiled at the track at a press conference in the Patrón hospitality area on Friday, March 20 at 11.45am.
The green flag waves for the Twelve Hours of Sebring at 10.30am on Saturday, March 21 - kicking off the Malaria No More campaign in the best possible way. The team is aiming to complete nearly 1300 miles in the opening event of the season.
The historic Sebring event - the longest running sports car racing event in the US - will be shown live on SPEEDTV from 10.00am.