01/10/2018 By: Arynne Moody
What many Central Pennsylvania race fans may not know is that 358 Sprint Car driver Ashley Cappetta is more than a racer, a firefighter, and a graphic designer. Cappetta pours her whole self into charity work and raising money and awareness for various organizations, individuals, and causes.
Cappetta began her racing career in 2012 with a car that featured the recognizable pink breast cancer awareness ribbon as a tribute to those who suffer with or have lost their battles with this disease. Cappetta's grandmother, Bernice Cappetta, was a survivor of this cancer that affects one in eight women in the United States.
2012 also saw Cappetta don a top wing that would pay tribute to local fallen firefighter Brandon Little. This was also the first season she would race her now-yearly 9/11 tribute car, honoring those heroes who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
In 2013, Cappetta was honored to run the Weldon Sterner Memorial tribute wing panel for the 358 division on her No. 89. She also sold wristbands in remembrance of Jason Leffler, who was killed in June of that year in an accident while racing his 410 Sprint Car at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey. Proceeds from the sale of those wristbands went to the building of a custom Leffler car for his son, Charlie.
During the 2014 and 2015 seasons, a portion of the money raised through sales of her Ashley Cappetta Racing (ACR) merchandise and other fundraising efforts was donated to the Gator Gang Relay For Life Team. Cappetta also displayed her race car at the Hanover, PA Relay For Life Walks during those years. Relay For Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
In December of 2014, Cappetta held a fundraiser in which a portion of the proceeds went to the family of seven-year-old Tyson Balek who had recently been diagnosed with a rare brain disease known as leukodystrophy.
The 2015 season also saw Cappetta race a tribute car in honor of her friend Josh McMillion. McMillion was killed in an automobile accident in March of 2014, just 10 days after his 21st birthday.
In 2015, Cappetta also donated 20 percent of her t-shirt sales to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, whose mission is "to honor and remember America's fallen fire heroes, to provide resources to assist their survivors in rebuilding their lives, and work within the fire service community to reduce firefighter deaths and injuries" (FireHero.org).
In 2016, Cappetta created an entire car dedicated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Wish children were allowed to place their handprints on the white body of the car in colored paints. This car was on display during the annual Truck Convoy For Wishes in Gettysburg, PA. Cappetta also sold t-shirts sporting this car's likeness with half of the proceeds from its sale going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
2017 was another busy season of raising awareness for Cappetta and the 89 team. Cappetta was once again honored to drive the Brandon Little fallen firefighter tribute car. She created another breast cancer awareness themed car with 20 percent of its t-shirt sales going to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
When fellow 358 Sprint Car driver Todd Gracey was severely injured in an automobile accident during the 2017 racing season, Cappetta created decals sporting Gracey's No. 19G with all proceeds going to Gracey to help with his medical bills.
The ACR team also kept busy during the 2017 holiday season, creating and distributing goodie bags to over 35 police officers in Adams County (Pennsylvania).
At the 2017 Lincoln Speedway end of the year banquet, Cappetta was honored with the Heart to Heart award for her work with Relay For Life, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and for her 9/11 tribute car.
Despite her success as a 358 racer, some of Cappetta's greatest achievements happen off the track. Cappetta puts the same energy and dedication into her philanthropy as she does into bettering herself on the race track. It is certain that Cappetta's charitable work will not end anytime soon! Ashley Cappetta and ACR will continue to step up and support all those who are in need!
PHOTO CREDIT- KILLERMILEMOTORSPORTS- NICOLE SIGNOR