PETTIT'S EFFORTS HELP REUNITE A MAN AND HIS FAMILY by Mike Twist
Racing For The Missing Program is Showcased on #03 SWS Machine
Pettit has showcased missing people on his car as part of the Racing for the Missing program. A different missing person is featured at every race event in an effort to try and raise publicity and reunite the lost with their families. Speed51.com talked at length about the program with Pettit at the NASCAR banquet in New York last season. Click here for more.
Now it’s time to follow that up. This season, the program did exactly what it was designed for. Thanks to Pettit’s team, a missing man was united with his family after three years.
“In our July race at Altamont, we featured Charles Joshua Debes on the car,” said Pettit.. “We put together a press
conference with myself, Darrell LaMoure [a fellow racer who got Pettit involved in the program] and the families for the race. We got a lot of extra media coverage and the track even donated a billboard to the cause. During the race, we got even more exposure and the family got the VIP treatment at the track.
“The Debes Family had a great time. It was the first NASCAR Touring race that they had been to. They even wanted us to try and profile their son for our next race at Stockton. We couldn’t do that because we try to profile as many people as we can.”
It turned out that Pettit wouldn’t have needed to anyways.
“Ten days later, a friend who knew him saw the coverage. He’s in a NASCAR family and they pay a lot of attention to racing. They told Charles and he called in. He didn’t even know that he was missing. He had gone to school in Pensacola, Florida and his car broke down on the way to the airport. It was a strange string of events, but his family had moved so there was no way for him to get in touch with them. After three years, they were reunited.”
Pettit's #03 (NASCAR Photos)
For the past few seasons, Jim Pettit, III has had an unique “sponsor” on his racecar in the NASCAR Elite Series. It hasn’t been a motor oil, engine builder or fast-food restaurant. In fact, it hasn’t even been a real sponsor by definition at all. Pettit’s team has donated the space on their car for a good cause and not a sponsorship check.
“I got a phone call from Darrell and he told me that we found somebody. We had never had a safe return before and it was just great. Charles’ Mom called and couldn’t thank us enough. I was on cloud nine. Nothing could mess my day up. I called my wife and my crew and everyone was just ecstatic.”
The success of the program means more to Pettit that race victories or championships. It even can make a bad day at the races more bearable.
“It makes all of the work worth it. It gives you a never give-up attitude,” said Pettit. “None of us like to lose, but when you can do something like this away from the track it makes everything worthwhile.
“This has been very touching for us. We bring hope to families. Most of what we profile are cold cases and law enforcement just doesn’t have the resources to track down. There are over 46,000 people missing in California alone right now.”
Pettit will continue with the program this weekend at the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway (CA). With the event being nationally televised on SPEED, there could be another success story in the making.
“We’re hoping to reach that one person who can help,” said Pettit. “The one person who knows what happened. It’s very rewarding for us to see hope like we do.”
For more information on this topic, please visit www.missingadults.org.