As the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship travels to Kansas this weekend, David Ostella of Performance Tech Motorsports in the Prototype Challenge class is focusing on trying to help a special breast cancer survivor achieve her dreams. Wings of Hope is a charity organization started by breast cancer survivor Anna Rossetti, a close family friend to Toronto-area resident Ostella.
Rossetti has followed Ostella's progress in racing over the years while he has followed her personal fight and work to protect others from breast cancer. Based in Toronto, Wings of Hope raises awareness and funds to care for patients at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto who are fighting the battle against breast cancer. Over the charity's nine years, a team of women has surrounded Rossetti with support and helped her to raise more than $445,000. Inspired by Rosetti's tireless work in the fight against breast cancer, Ostella started Dash from Breast Cancer campaign this season.
"Out of all the charities and causes he could have supported, he chose mine," Rossetti said of Ostella, 22. "When his mother told me David wanted to ask me something, I had no idea what our conversation would be about. When we sat down and he told me that he wanted to help, I was overwhelmed."
The campaign will continue through the end of the race season in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In support of Dash from Breast Cancer, Ostella's Performance Tech Motorsports team will wear pink clothing in the pits, host breast cancer survivors at each Prototype Challenge round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and Ostella's website will feature a donation page sponsored by Dash Neighborhoods that connects fans to the Wings of Hope donation account. At the end of October, Ostella will present a check to Rossetti and address the audience at the Wings of Hope gala.
"It's so good to see young adults getting involved in something that may never affect them, or would at least not affect them for 20 or 30 years," Rosetti continued. "At David's age, I never would have thought that I would be faced with cancer. So it truly is inspiring to see him so vigilant and aware."
Wings of Hope is one of four charities Ostella's family has supported over the years. The charity resonated with Ostella because of Rossetti's fight and because he lost his great-grandfather and grandfather to cancer.
"Family is obviously huge to me, and Anna is family," Ostella said. "Realizing what she's gone through and still is going through, it's what has inspired me. I want to be able to grow the campaign and continue what we're doing to keep bringing awareness.
Ostella will continue to grow Dash from Breast Cancer and support of Wings of Hope through the season by organizing events and making hospital visits in TUDOR United SportsCar Championship event markets. He'll even revamp his helmet design to reflect his dedication to the cause. His first event will be a hospital visit Friday, June 6 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Lawrence, Kansas. The patients also will have the opportunity to attend a paddock tour and race at Kansas Speedway, hosted by Ostella.
"I'd like to see other people and drivers get involved with Dash from Breast Cancer and even the series," continued Ostella. "That would be amazing. I want to keep bringing survivors out to the track so they can share their stories. I don't want people to just donate - I want people to want to get involved themselves."
It has been two years since Ostella has raced on an oval - in Indy Lights - but only two weeks since he tested on Kansas Speedway's six-turn, 2.37-mile road course, which uses nearly the entire 1.5-mile banked oval at the facility. Ostella hopes his previous experience, mixed with recent practice, will put his No. 38 car atop the Prototype Challenge field.
"The trick will be to stay as smooth as possible on the oval turns," Ostella said. "You have to keep your momentum because it's more of an oval than anything. The infield section, the road course part, is the only place where you can pass. It's flat out at Kansas."
Ostella's focus will be on running a clean race, as this is the first time the Prototype Challenge cars of the TUDOR Championship will share the track with the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, an IMSA Developmental Series. The United SportsCar race will be split into two 45-minute sprints without co-drivers, a format familiar to Ostella from his time in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin series last season.
"It'll be different to have the car to myself again," Ostella said. "It's more of a sprint race, which is more of what I'm used to, so hopefully that works to my advantage. Every driver should benefit from the race setup. There are no pit stops, there is one driver in the car, and all you have to focus on is driving.
Ostella, from Maple, Ontario, took time on Friday, June 6 to visit the oncology department at Lawrence (Kansas) Memorial Hospital to meet patients and hear their stories. A group of patients will join him as guests at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 7 at Kansas Speedway for a behind-the-scenes look at his team, Performance Tech Motorsports. The Lawrence Memorial guests then will watch Ostella race and cheer for him while sporting pink Ostella T-shirts.
"I'm very excited to kick off my campaign," Ostella said. "I think it will make the project more meaningful to put more faces and stories behind the campaign. It's the people who, you know, have fought and continued to be affected that are the reason we have to continue to raise awareness and funds. I hope that we can gain momentum that carries on to the next race."
Ostella will be on track for practice at 4:35 p.m., 5:25 p.m. and 8:10 p.m. (CT) Friday, with qualifying at 10:45 p.m. Race 1 begins at 4:15 p.m. Saturday, June 7, with Race 2 beginning at 10:15 p.m.
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