McCandless autocross benefit gets on 'Fast Track to a Cure' this month

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 5:00 p.m.

Drivers who want to learn car control and fine-tune their driving skills can check out the sixth annual Barbara Lee's Fast Track to a Cure for Huntington's Disease autocross benefit, to be held May 26, at the North Park swimming pool parking lot in McCandless.

Anyone who wants to drive the automobile obstacle course can arrive at the parking lot from 8 to 9:30 a.m. to register, said event creator Morgan McLane of Fast Track Pittsburgh, the benefit committee. Drivers will begin at approximately 10:30 a.m., he said.

Benefit organizers work with members of the North Hills Sports Car Club, or NHSCC, to conduct and set up a safe driving course. They also will provide a fenced-off area for spectators and families. The cost to drive is $25 for members or $30 for nonmembers.

“Autocross is one of the ultimate forms of how you learn car control. You get to drive like an absolute bandit legally and not get pulled over,” McLane said.

Proceeds from the event will go to the Huntington's Disease Society of America. McLane created the local autocross event in honor of his aunt, Barbara Lee Scott of North Versailles, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1999 and died in 2010.

McLane said Huntington's disease is a degenerative neurological disease that affects a person physically and mentally.

“There's all kinds of work going on searching for a cure, (but) there's not one,” said McLane, 25, of Edgewood. “There's no treatment, no successful cure. It basically shuts the brain down.”

And it also might have been passed down genetically to his aunt's two daughters, as well as their children, so this cause is very important to McLane and his mother, Pat, who is Scott's sister.

“It's kind of a family affair,” she said. “It's not a well-known disease, and they need to raise money for it.”

Because Morgan McLane was already a member of the NHSCC, they decided to work with the group to create a fun benefit that also is family-friendly, he said.

They will be selling food provided by a local chef, and other items will be for sale. Along with providing activities for children, the event is set up near one of North Park's playgrounds.

Drivers who are not sure if they want to tackle the autocross course can try out the Fun Run race at the end for $1. They will ride on the course with an experienced driver, Morgan McLane said.

Pat McLane, 60, of Forest Hills, said it was important to make the event enjoyable, as well as raise money.

So far they've raised almost $50,000, Morgan McLane said. If they are able to raise $12,000 this year, that will mean the event has averaged approximately $10,000 per year, he said.

McLane said the driving the course takes about 25 to 30 seconds, and it is set up for both experienced and beginning autocross drivers, who will use their own cars on the course. No sport-utility vehicles, pickups or vans can be used.

Helmets will be required, so drivers should bring their own, although the NHSCC will provide a few, he said.

Morgan McLane said drivers must have their cars completely cleaned out to prevent loose items from getting out of the vehicles when they are on the course. Those organizing the event will give cars quick safety inspections, which are required.

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Natalie Beneviat is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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