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Young race driver helps Autism Speaks

Published 10:35pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013

More than 2,000 participants at the Fifth Annual Richmond Walk Now for Autism Speaks at the Richmond International Raceway on Saturday got to enjoy a variety of perks, including musical kids’ entertainment from the Diggity Dudes, meet-and-greets with local mascots, and the chance to meet a 9-year-old race car driver.

Autumn Weaver, 9, was suited up and present with her Bandolero Car for the Fifth Annual Richmond Walk Now for Autism Speaks at the Richmond International Raceway on Saturday. (Photo submitted by Stacy Bailey)
Autumn Weaver, 9, was suited up and present with her Bandolero Car for the Fifth Annual Richmond Walk Now for Autism Speaks at the Richmond International Raceway on Saturday. (Photo submitted by Stacy Bailey)

Autumn Weaver of Suffolk was on hand with her Bandolero Car, showing support for Autism Speaks and letting people know about her continued racing aspirations. The young driver and her car proved to be a big draw.

While a few people had been to arena racing last season and recognized Autumn, her manager Stacy Bailey said, “For the most part they were just in awe that a little 9-year-old girl was racing this car that goes 70 miles an hour.”

“She was in her full driving uniform and they kept saying, ‘You’re the driver?’” Bailey said.

“We didn’t walk or drive,” Autumn said. “We just sat outside and did autographs because we didn’t have enough time to walk.”

Bailey said, “We were getting so much attention even during the walk that we couldn’t break away from the car.”

As of Saturday, according to the Autism Speaks website, the Richmond Walk event had raised more than $118,000 in support of Autism Speaks’mission, which is to fund research, increase awareness and family services and advocate for individuals with autism and their families.

Autumn did her part to contribute to what the website also said was the best year yet for the Richmond Walk.

“I gave trophies out,” she said, alluding to her idea to give away the rewards from some of her previous victories to children in attendance, both autistic and not. Having raced since she was 4 years old, Autumn has more than 25 career victories under her belt.

“I had too many trophies,” she said.

Later on Saturday, a woman named Nancy Roberson went on the Autumn Weaver Motorsports Facebook page and expressed her appreciation. She commented on a photo of Autumn from the event, stating, “Thanks so much for being so sweet today with my sons!” One of them was still carrying Autumn’s trophy around and could not stop talking about her. “You made his day. We’ll be out at arena racing cheering for you.”

Autumn had one word to describe how she felt about having so many people want her autograph and want to learn more about her and her car: “Crazy.”

Autumn’s connection to Autism Speaks stems from the friendship she has formed with Bailey’s 8-year-old nephew Aidyn Kleczewski, who has autism.

She has helped create a donation page at fundraise.autismspeaks.org, where she encourages her supporters to help Aidyn, but to date, there have not been any donations. The page is accessible by typing “Autumn Weaver Motorsports” or “Stacy Bailey” into the search field on the website.

Additionally, she also has a team page active at www.walknowforautismspeaks.org, where clicking on “Search For A Team” on the left-hand side and typing in “Autumn Weaver Motorsports” will lead to the donation page.

Autumn will soon be gearing up for the arena racing season, which begins in early November.

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