Destiny Takes Over Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation Chili Bowl Raffle

Destiny Takes Over Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation Chili Bowl Raffle

Inside Line Promotions – ARLINGTON, Wash. (Jan. 31, 2014) – Marvin Smith had battled bone marrow cancer for three years.

No matter what slide job the former sprint car champion threw at the vicious disease, it continued to daunt one of the faces of Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore. The ups and downs were as consistent as the victories and wild finishes for Smith, who was known as much for his helpful personality as his propensity to cross the finish line first.

One of those down moments came last June, only days before his 51st – and final – birthday.

“We were planning on getting a motorhome and going up to Skagit Speedway (in Alger, Wash.) for the week,” said Brenda King, who dated Smith for approximately four and a half years. “He was good friends with (Skagit Speedway owner) Steve Beitler. That week of the Dirt Cup was Marvin’s birthday. We planned on having a week-long thing.”

But his cancer was acting up.

“We weren’t able to take the motorhome,” King said. “He had his treatment and was in bed. He got up Friday and was wanting to go to the Dirt Cup so bad. Steve Beitler had told us if we made it up there he’d have tickets for us for the races that weekend. I told Marvin I’ll drive up there and he can sleep on the way and then we’ll get a hotel.”

When the duo arrived at the track, Melinda Thompson – who manages the Village Green Resort in Cottage Grove – greeted them at the entrance with an opportunity to buy Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation raffle tickets for a trip to the 2014 Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla., the following January.

“Marvin told me to do five tickets for me and five tickets for him, but I put Marvin’s name on all 10 tickets,” King said. “He had always wanted to go to the Chili Bowl.”

Smith and King enjoyed the weekend at the Dirt Cup, which was capped by Smith’s birthday on the Saturday finale. King had the drivers sign a giant birthday card and the celebration was memorable.

Approximately four months later, things took a turn for the worse.

“We came home and sometime in October his blood work came back that his kidneys were failing, which is a side effect from all of the medications he had to take to fight the cancer,” King said. “He spent a few days in the hospital. Basically, we decided to check out of the hospital and come home. He lasted three weeks at home.”

Smith passed away on Nov. 15.


In his final days, Smith and King received a unique phone call.

“During those three weeks I got a call from (Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation Founder) Al (Tschider) saying that Marvin’s ticket had been drawn for the Chili Bowl,” King said. “At that time the doctor had only given Marvin a week or two at the most. He told me that I should go. He said if I don’t make it, you go and take someone with you. I said I really don’t feel that I could go to that race without you.”

Sparked in that conversation was an idea, which was built on the foundation of love, support and friendship decades earlier.

“‘With all the years that Craig and Donnie (Simons) have been your pit crew guys,’” King told Smith. “‘We should send them if you don’t make it.’ About a week later is when he passed.”


Craig Simons had volunteered as a crew member for Smith since 1994 and Simons’ younger brother, Donnie, had been with the team since the late 1980s.

“All those years they showed up at the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 o’clock,” King said. “For years and years they are working on the race cars. It was nice for them to have that, especially with losing Marvin.”

Craig Simons said he was in disbelief when he was told of Smith’s plan to send him and his brother on the trip.

“You’re kidding me!” he exclaimed. “I just couldn’t believe it. It took me completely by surprise. Not that that would ever be out of Marvin’s character. Marvin would go to any length to help us out.”

As the Simons dealt with the barrage of emotions from the loss of a close friend, they began to prepare for the special trip.

“That was the race that Donnie and I had always talked about and probably would have never done if this had not happened,” Craig Simons said.


The brothers flew into Tulsa, Okla., on Monday, Jan. 13, and watched all five nights of action from the Tulsa Expo Raceway during the 28th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire before heading back to Oregon the following Sunday.

“I think that’s the best race I’ve ever attended in my whole life,” Craig Simons said. “I had no idea. I’d been to Gold Cup. I’ve seen big races in the Northwest. But that was quite the event. I hope to be able to go back again someday.”

In addition to the action on the track, the Simons met Tschider and were officially introduced to the Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation and Johnny Gibbs – one of the children the foundation works with.

“The family was very awesome and even asked for people to donate to the Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation if they wanted to do something in Marvin’s name,” Tschider said. “I knew Marvin from the racing scene for many years and it was very neat to see his impact. And it was never more evident than on the faces of Craig and Donnie at the Chili Bowl.

“Also, I can’t thank the Hahn family and everyone within ASCS enough for donating the tickets and hotel rooms to make this opportunity possible.”

It marked another successful journey for the Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation as the raffle raised vital money to assist in providing motor sports trips and racing opportunities for children battling life-threatening conditions and illnesses.

“In Al’s circumstance, golly gosh, he really puts out a strong effort to make things happen and he always seems to follow through,” Craig Simons said. “I really admire the guy. I’m ready to help out Al as much as I can. Helping little kids achieve their dreams under impossible circumstances is quite admirable.”

For the Simons, it was a needed moment and a new friend as they heal from the loss of another admirable man.


Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation was created to provide motor sports trips and racing opportunities for children battling life-threatening conditions and illnesses. For more information, visit

“I really believe in motor sports and it gives these kids something to look forward to," Founder Al Tschider said. “They spend a lot of time at the hospitals or just doing stuff that the normal kid doesn’t have to do.”

Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation would like to thank Steve Forler Trucking, Village Green Resort, FX Signs, Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series, Brenton’s Outdoor Adventures,, Joe Jones Entertainment, Satellite Solutions, Liquid Lime, Northwest Powder Coating & Sandblasting, Ridge Runner Wings, Randy Price, Steve Beitler, JSR Motorsports, Pro Mod Engines, RS Products, Triple X Race Co., OPC, JOES Racing Products, Design 500 Racewear, SpeedMart, Vic’s Old Gas Pumps, Moka Joe’s Coffee and all of people who have donated time and money for their continued support.






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