PORT ROYAL, Pa. — By now we’ve had a chance to soak in all the new paint schemes for the season. One car in particular attracts a lot of attention on the track.
A late model driver from Mifflin, Austin Berry made his 2023 campaign "racing for time."
Bluntly put, cancer sucks. If Berry can help one family beat the odds and not go through what his family went through, his efforts to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer are working.
Berry brought back the purple paint scheme on his super late model for the first time since making its debut in 2018. He is once again bringing awareness to pancreatic cancer after losing his grandfather to PanCAN in 2008.
“I remember probably two years before he was diagnosed, him saying his back hurt and they thought he had kidney stones and he was drinking lemonade like it was going out of style and it’s like, dang it," said Austin Berry, driver No. 86, Austin Berry Racing late model. "Back then, if we would have known that’s probably what his problem was, there’s a good chance he’d still be here at the races with us today."
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Berry is using his racing platform to help decrease that statistic and hopefully help a family not endure what they did.
Berry went on to say, “It was a common story, way too much, with pancreatic cancer. It was stage four until they caught it and it was just too late.”
Berry’s grandfather was one of his biggest supporters of Austin racing and always wanted to see him race in a top division but never got the chance.
Berry isn’t only racing to raise awareness; he's also raising money for pancreatic cancer research.
Five years ago, the last time the purple car hit the track, Berry donated move than $5,000 and hopes exceed that this season. All of his t-shirt sales will go to PanCAN research. He's also hoping to cover the entire car with purple ribbon decals; purple is the color ribbon for PanCAN.
Anyone that buys a t-shirt or ribbon will be entered in a raffle at the end of the year for all of the body panels and racing gloves.
Austin Berry Racing will also travel to other tracks like Bedford and Hagerstown to spread awareness to more areas.
PanCAN has recently affected a few racing families. Ten-time World of Outlaw champion Donny Schatz’s dad passed away last year after a lengthy battle with PanCAN. In 2018, an accident could have quite possibly saved TJ Stutts’ life.
“They thought it was a bruise. It’s just a very rare type," said TJ Stutts, driver No. 11, TJ Stutts Racing. "A neuroendocrine tumor, which is not a normal pancreatic cancer type. Once Hopkins got their information, we did some biopsy work. They were able to come up with a solution to it."
Six months later in December of 2018, Stutts had surgery to have the tumor removed. Three months after that, he finished second at Williams Grove’s opener in 2019.
At the time, Stutts felt healthy. He didn’t have a reason to go to the doctors until he broke his back in an accident.
“If I wouldn’t have broke my back, I’m not going to go to the doctors," said Stutts. "I get up. I go to work every morning. I don’t go to the doctors unless something is wrong and that’s the problem with pancreatic cancer. There’s no warning signs."
According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, only 6% of Americans diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive more than five years.
It has been nearly five years since Stutts was diagnosed; he is cancer-free.
It means everything that he’s able to do what he loves at the track with his sons.
More information on PanCAN can be found online, and if you’d like to help Berry's mission, click here.
Friday night at Williams Grove, Lance Dewease wired the 410 feature, but not without a little pressure from Danny Dietrich. Dewease picked up his 112th win at the Grove.
The rain started to fall while Dewease was in victory lane, just before the USAC East Coast cars hit the track. But, they still raced.
While leading, with six laps left, Alex Bright was clearly about to lose his motor, with heavy smoke coming from the motor. Bright got a lucky break when Bruce Buckwalter brought out the red. Not sure if he just jumped the cushion or slipped on some oil dropped by Bright. The red helped out Bright.
There were a few parade laps to check the track, with more sprinkles falling. The green flag dropped again. Bright somehow held off Briggs Danner for the win.
They got everything in before the heavy rain. Logan Spahr won the 305 feature.
Saturday racing wiped clean with cancelations across the board with weather.
A wild race at BAPS Sunday Night. Bradley Howard went for a spin and collected Dietrich. Then, Jeff Halligan spun in the same spot and once again, Dietrich had nowhere to go. Somehow, Dietrich came back to finish fifth.
Devon Borden won back-to-back weekends and picked up his first career feature at BAPS.