Editor’s Note: John Olsakovsky is one of my co-hosts on our IndyCar podcast “FBC indi”, an occasional contributor, an enormous fan of open-wheel racing, a good friend, and a Houston resident. So often we see news of tragedy on the television or hear about it on the radio during our commutes to and from work, but the reality of the tragedy often seems distant and so unrelated to our daily routine. For John and his family, that changed this past weekend. This is his experience returning from the IndyCar race at Gateway Motorsports Park, and details of a great assistance program spearheaded by Texas legend A.J. Foyt, #Race4Houston.
Words and photo by John Oslakovsky
HOUSTON, Tex. — As many of you are aware, the city of Houston, Texas, USA and the surrounding communities have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. As a resident of the Houston area, I’ve seen first-hand how extensive the damage is. While I am blessed to be safe and free from any damage, my friends and neighbors are not as fortunate.
I was fortunate to drive back from St. Louis into the thick of the hurricane on Sunday, as crazy as that sounds. If I didn’t come back then, I wouldn’t have been able to get back to see my family, nor would I have been able to help in the small ways I have been able to.
As I compose this on September 1, there are still parts of the region that are still flooded from the record rainfall and rising rivers, all of which enter the Gulf of Mexico through the region. The descriptors I’ve heard for the damage caused by Harvey are accurate, yet inadequate. Houston and Corpus Christi will dig out and move on. Smaller communities like Rockport may not fare as well.
The need for assistance is still unfathomable at this stage, but it’s obvious there is a need. I understand that Formula 1 Blog has a reach far and wide across the globe. Not everyone can load a truck full of supplies and trek to Texas. To those that are able and have or will do so; we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
If you are compelled to help, but leery of scammers or questionable charities, here are a couple that are undoubtedly worthy of your charitable dollar.
The first is the Greater Houston Community Foundation at https://ghcf.org/. This is a 501(c)(3) public charity founded by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner that is able to provide assistance directly to Houstonians in whatever form that may be. This foundation is Houstonians helping Houstonians, essentially, and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund was established specifically to help Houston recover and rebuild.
This is the same Foundation that Verizon IndyCar Series team A.J. Foyt Racing has partnered with for their #Race4Houston fund-raising campaign. Super Tex has his team headquarters in Waller, Texas, an outlying community hit just has hard as Houston itself.
“It’s absolutely terrible what’s going on in Texas. I’m 82 years old and in my whole lifetime, I’ve never seen anything like this. I remember Hurricane Carla was bad but nothing like this. I just can’t believe the water is still so high. I’ve been very lucky because I had very little damage. So far none of my homes have gotten under water and I thank God for that. I just feel sorry for all the poor people who weren’t as fortunate. A lot of people are in a lot of trouble, and too many lives were lost. But Texas will come back from this. It’s going to take a long time and a lot of money, but we will rebuild. Texans are tough.” — A.J. Foyt, Owner, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Damn right, we are.
Both Carloz Munoz and Conor Daly will be sporting a special #Race4Houston decal on his car, and I would expect that a large portion of the IndyCar paddock, as well as all three series that make up the Mazda Road to Indy that are at Watkins Glen for this weekend’s IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen.
In addition to the decals for awareness, a #Race4Houston t-shirt is available for sale at the final two Verizon IndyCar Series races, as well as from the A.J. Foyt Racing website. Net proceeds from the sale will go directly to the Hurricaine Harvey Relief Fund. Yes, it’s just a t-shirt, but it helps a bit. Trust me when I say that every little bit helps.
The American Red Cross is another organization that is equipped to help those in need, from rescue equipment to supplies and equipment for sheltering and medical aid for those in need along with the expertise and manpower to help rescue and recovery operations on a large scale. You can’t argue that certainly needed along the Texas Gulf Coast. Information about their efforts, as well as donation information can be found at their website.
Just as the racing community rallies around its own in a time of need (the Justin Wilson Foundation is a perfect example), The city of Houston and the State of Texas will rebound, recover and rebuild. We already are, and will continue until we’re back to some semblance of normal. It’s what we do.