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Published: Sunday, 8/8/2004

Thousands cheer return of Grand Prix

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The driver of the TARTA race car opts not to take the bus route during preliminary heats of the Junior Achievement Grand Prix in downtown Toledo. The races were held along the Maumee River at the headquarters of Owens Cornings. The driver of the TARTA race car opts not to take the bus route during preliminary heats of the Junior Achievement Grand Prix in downtown Toledo. The races were held along the Maumee River at the headquarters of Owens Cornings.
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Four-year-old Kyle Dzuricky s die-hard devotion to the No. 5 Indy-style go-cart proves that small race cars bring out the smallest fans.

Each time Kyle spotted the red, No. 5 PHC/Crestline Paving car at the Junior Achievement fund-raiser yesterday, he stood up, clapped his hands, and cheered.

We only cheer when the No. 5 car comes by, cause we have the No. 5 car on the back of our shirts, the Ann Arbor boy said matter of factly.

More than 10,000 others rooted for their favorites as they zipped by during the JA Grand Prix 2004 course laid out at the Owens Corning world headquarters along the Maunee River downtown.

The scene was a mini Indy 500 albeit about 200 mph slower with fun for the whole family, complete with checkered flags, grand stands, corporate tents, and an infield.

Event director Kathy Gries said the fund-raiser provides between $30,000 and $50,000 each year and brings awareness to Junior Achievement, which works to educate young people about free enterprise, business, and economics.

More people in Ohio know about Junior Achievement in Ohio because of this, she said.

The event began at 9:45 a.m. with a parade lap followed by a brief opening ceremony.

Preliminary heats started at 10 a.m., and led to feature races that began at 2:45 p.m.

The championship race 19 cars, 25 laps began at 4:30 p.m.

Watching the preliminary heats brought out traces of nostalgia for Joe Refi, a truck driver at UPS.

I used to race go-carts when I was younger, so I like watching them, he said, pausing to cheer for the UPS car making a hairpin turn around a corner.

In between the races and before the final race, children like the Moore sisters enjoyed the children s area, which was complete with a coloring board, climbing and velcro walls, and balloons.

Mackenzie Moore, 6, said she reached the top of the climbing wall four times by using her feet first, then hands.

It takes you a while, but then you get it, added her 11-year-old sister, Kaitlin.

Kelsey Moore, 8, said that although she liked the climbing wall, her favorite part of the day was when she rode the Dodge monster truck, courtesy of the UAW/DaimlerChrysler National Training Center.

It just went fast and turned corners, she said.

When it came to the championship race, everyone stopped what they were doing to support their favorite cars, even if the top speed was 35 mph.

Kyle Dzuricky s loyalty to the PHC/Crestline car must have paid off, because it sped over the finish line in first place for the second year in a row and was awarded a glass trophy.

The pit stops had to be good, said Cole Young, the PHC/Crestline driver who took the checkered flag.

Contact Erika Ray at: eray@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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