The Glen Visits Autistic Teen's Daytona 500 Party


Millions of race fans came together at numerous parties across the country to watch Ryan Newman claim a thrilling victory in the 50th Running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 17. James Piccarreto, a 17-year-old Greece, NY-native, was the host of such a party at The Inside Track Speedway in Gates, NY. The thing that made this party unique from most others was that James is autistic, the party was designed to be fun and increase awareness about autism, and Watkins Glen International was there to help support the event.

This was the first year Watkins Glen International was involved with supporting this great event and the legendary road course wanted to make it a party to remember for all in attendance. Piccarreto was presented with a gift basket courtesy of Watkins Glen International and Daytona International Speedway. The basket included a WGI sweatshirt, souvenir Daytona 500 program, Daytona 500 hat, a personalized letter from DIS President Robin Braig, a NASCAR rug, and a panorama of his favorite driver Jeff Gordon. The Glen also made the two racing simulators used on the famed road course’s Racing Only Twisted Tour available to all party attendees.

“This party really has turned into James’ event and I am amazed how it has grown over the years, “said Carla Piccarreto, James’ mother. “It was a bonus to have Watkins Glen International involved.”

The annual Daytona 500 party began eight years ago as a small get together of five or six autistic boys at the Piccarreto’s home. James had just finished a social skills class and, knowing her sons’ love for NASCAR, Carla decided there was no better event to throw a party for than the Daytona 500. The small gathering at their home has now grown into a community party that attracted 250 people in 2008. The food and beverages were donated by area businesses as was a 52 inch TV to watch the race. Daytona 500 paraphernalia was found throughout the party area and guests were able to win prizes through giveaways and raffles. Guests also had the option to make donations to help support autism awareness.

Tickets for the racing action at Watkins Glen International are on-sale now! This year the season kicks-off with the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, June 6-7 paired with the NASCAR Camping World Series’ East Division on Sunday, June 8. Open-wheel racing returns for the 4th of July weekend during the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen, July 4-6, and the Centurion Boats at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup and Zippo 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series weekend highlights the summer action, August 7-10. For more tickets and more information, please contact the Watkins Glen International ticket office at 866-461-RACE or log on to the official website

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