Toyota Announces Winning Car Design

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Toyota Racing today announced the grand prize winner in the “Sponsafy Your Ride Contest,” the quest to take one fan’s NASCAR Cup car masterpiece from online design to real sheet metal. “Praying for Karson,” created by Fay Knape of Danbury, Texas, beat out more than 77,500 submissions. A Toyota Camry wrapped in the “Praying for Karson” artwork will be featured in the parade lap before the green flag drops at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway this evening.

Knape’s design “Praying for Karson” honors her one-year-old grandson, Karson, who suffers from a rare interstitial lung disease known as Neuroendocrine Cell Hyperplasia in Infancy (NEHI). The disease impacts the process in which red blood cells receive oxygen from the lungs and expel carbon dioxide, and causes a condition called hypoxemia, where tissue cells are unable to receive enough oxygen for cellular reactions. This results in unusually fast breathing and problems growing and gaining weight, among other symptoms. There are roughly 150 diagnosed cases of the disease worldwide.

Knape saw the contest as the perfect opportunity to raise NEHI awareness and potentially fund research. Knape’s car design illustrates her vision for Karson’s future. She hopes to see him playing outdoors and enjoying the beauty of nature, without being restricted by the oxygen tank he wears 90 percent of the time. In addition to the grand prize package, Toyota has donated $5,000 to Karson’s family to help offset the cost of his medical expenses.

“I’ve been a NASCAR fan for years and years, and I’ve never had the opportunity to attend a race. And to put this all together so that it benefits [Karson] in the long run is absolutely amazing,” said Knape. “Being in Charlotte is like a dream come true. I wake up in the morning and ask, ‘Is this really happening to me?’”

Knape received a prize package for the weekend’s race festivities in Charlotte, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the official 2010 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Week events, hospitality suite access, a driver meet and greet with Denny Hamlin, exclusive Toyota racing apparel and spending cash. Knape is accompanied to the race by her husband, James; son, Patrick; daughter, Breah; and grandson and inspiration, Karson.

On June 20, two-time Daytona 500 winner, Michael Waltrip will attempt to qualify the No. 55 “Praying for Karson” Toyota Camry for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Infineon Raceway. "Getting to drive a car is definitely my favorite part of the whole sport, and I’m really thankful that Fay Knape designed a car that is creating awareness for such an important cause," said Waltrip. "The Sponsafier ads have been so creative and fun, especially to see my guys David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr. be a part of it all. Driving the ‘Praying for Karson’ car is something that I’m honored to do to help out the Knape family continue to raise awareness for NEHI."

More than one million votes were cast in the contest. Nine of 10 crowd favorites chosen by popular vote qualified to compete for the grand prize. A panel of judges comprised of Toyota executives and NASCAR personalities Darrell Waltrip, Michael Waltrip and Joe Gibbs then narrowed the field of nine finalists down to five. Along with “Praying for Karson,” the panel selected four runners-up, including:

First Runner-up: “Purple Heart”

Second Runner-up: “Kaitlin’s Wish Black”

Third Runner-up: “Shayden’s Race Car”

Fourth Runner-up: “All-Star”

Toyota Racing has chosen to bring two additional car designs to life on-site at Charlotte due to the success of the contest. “Purple Heart,” which honors wounded veterans, and “Kaitlin’s Wish Black,” which supports pregnancy loss awareness, will be featured in the Toyota PitPass display at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The “Sponsafy Your Ride Contest” was introduced with a 60-second TV commercial during this year’s Daytona 500 broadcast featuring Toyota drivers Kyle Busch and Joey Logano with appearances by Michael Waltrip and Martin Truex Jr. Additional TV commercials included 30-second spots “Amanda” featuring Denny Hamlin with an appearance by David Reutimann, “Kimmy” featuring Kyle Busch and “Warlock” featuring Joey Logano with appearances by Michael Waltrip and Martin Truex Jr.

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