A motorcycle malfunction couldn't keep Rusty Wallace from making his way to Rapid City on Wednesday.
"I guess I ran it too hard," the retired NASCAR driver told reporters with a laugh. "It blew an engine."
Despite his bike troubles, Wallace still made it to town in time for a charity ride organized in his name by the Buffalo Chip campground along with a cadre of other motorheads in tow. When they departed from Main Street Square for the Chip later that afternoon, more than a dozen other bikers had joined them.
All proceeds from the ride — registration for which cost $185 — will be donated to charity, according to Chip organizers. Half of the funds raised will be set aside for Rapid City Flame, whose athletes compete in the South Dakota Special Olympics.
The remaining half will be donated to the NASCAR Foundation, which Executive Director Nichole Krieger said Wednesday gives to causes such as child welfare and disaster relief.
Ridership and fundraising totals for the event have not yet been announced. Whatever those totals may be, Buffalo Chip owner Rod Woodruff said the plan is to build on them by bringing the event back for future rallies.
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“In our experience, everything seems to start smaller than somebody might hope for and by persistence and consistency you build it and you make the cause greater,” Woodruff said during a press event held at the Delmonico Grill.
Wallace said the idea for the event grew out of his participation in last year's Legends Ride, a Chip staple that has drawn numerous celebrities over the years. Joining him on Wednesday was former Alaska governor and one-time vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her husband Todd, both of whom rode with Wallace and others in the 2018 event.
Herself the parent of a child with down syndrome, Palin said after the press event that she was compelled to attend on Wednesday to show her support for children with disabilities and her love for motorcycles.
"I believe [God's] will is for us to get out there and help empower those who are helping kids with special needs, but also the kids themselves," she said.
Other notable participants Wednesday included professional stock car driver Clint Bowyer, retired drag racer, Don Prudhomme, and actor and musician Sean McNabb. Retired off-road racer Walker Evans and his son Evan Evans, himself an off-road racer, were also present.
Before departing for the Chip, riders signed autographs on Main Street Square, where an auction was also held. To get there, Wallace sat astride a custom bike that organizers said came from Black Hills Harley-Davidson.