10 Years in the Making – Designer Night at the Races™ #51

It is hard for me to believe that Designer Night at the Races™ is 10 years old.  Since the first event in 2006 we have held more than 50 days and nights of racing gokarts in Detroit, California and even in Europe.  So, thank you to all the support we have received over the years, from participants, to sponsors, to the tracks.  Here’s to the next 10 years being even more awesome than the past 10!  Oh yeah, here is a write up of event #51 in Novi, MI written by our very own Kristin Shaw. Ed.

Celebrating a decade of Designer Night at the Races, individuals from the automotive industry came together for a night of Competition, Camaraderie and Charity at JD Racing Indoor Karting in Novi Michigan for Event #51 in the series.


The evening kicked off with some networking and dinner from Tilted Kilt. The participants were anxious to get on the track, and the mood in the room quickly transferred from genial to competitive. Many drivers even brought their own helmets to the event.

IMG_7063Before getting strapped in, they were reminded that position didn’t matter, but lap time did. It was also suggested by Frank Schwartz, President of AACS and founder of Designer Night at the Races – that “if anyone is going to put somebody into a wall, please don’t do it to a sponsor.”



Designer Night at the Races provides a chance for designers to reconnect with college friends while also giving industry professionals the chance to network. More importantly this event raises funds for various cancer charities. In previous years, the event has benefited the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center. The charity chosen this year was a little but more of a personal decision.


IMG_5650A long-time friend and former colleague of Frank was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Thanks to the aggressive and proactive treatment of the University of Michigan’s Cancer Center, she is now a cancer survivor. As a tribute to the amazing team at U of M, they were chosen as the beneficiary to the three-night fundraiser.

IMG_7094Although the participants attend this event to combat fellow designers on the track, the crowd took a moment to remember their personal experiences with cancer.


After this moving introduction, the teams took to the tracks. C-Main (first race, slower drivers).  Joseph C. started on the pole in C-Main with a time of 24.237, but finished 3rd.  Kyle K. started 2nd and moved to the lead on lap 3, no one ever got close after that.  Marcello and Joey fought hard for many laps before Marcello finally got past for 2nd.  Kurt started 4th but got spun early and dropped back.  Later he did the same to Scott W, who later spun Thoko.  The race ended up being a huge spin-fest.  IMG_5638


The C-Main Podium

In the B-Main (second race) – Brad and Clay had an epic battle at the front, passing back and forth until Brad bumped-and-run Clay for the win – the closest race of the week.  Ariel C. made a beautiful pass of Brock after a long fight and set the fastest lap of the race.  Had the race been longer than 15 laps he probably would have chased the leaders down and won.  Sam P. moved up the most positions started 7th and coming home 4th.IMG_5715


The B-Main Podium

In the A-Main (fastest of the fast), Ryan B. led the race from the pole, flag to flag, setting the fastest lap in the process.  Frank S. chased him down from the 3rd spot at the beginning and worked on Ryan’s bumper until a wreck elsewhere on the track separated them.  Max K. started 9th and worked himself all the way up to 4th setting a sub-23 second lap in the process, but not quite enough to bump Derek M. off the final podium spot.


The A-Main Podium

One last competition event was still to be decided, the Car Show sponsored by Mobis.  Ryan B. was the winner with a stunning 240Z but the real winners were the people who got to experience the exhaust-off as all the cars were revved at the same time during the judging portion.

IMG_7012So with the Competition and Camaraderie out of the way, it was time for the Charity portion of the evening.  Participants opened their pockets and made many donations to help fight cancer.  Even the team at  JD’s Go-Karts jumped on board with a $100 donation.


Raffle prizes for the donations included Lego cars, DVDs and passes to the AutoMoto Film Festival (read more about it here).  But the grand prize everyone was interested in was a spectacular Winter Driving Class from the Bridgestone Winter Driving School.  The donations were well over $400 and were matched by AACS bringing the total raised to almost $1,000.

If you forgot to donate, here is the link. 


Events like this cannot happen without the support of great sponsors and partners.  Lacks Enterprises has been a partner in the event since event #1 back in March of 2006.  This year they were joined by Autodesk, and ABC Group who sponsored the food.

Designer Night at the Races #51-53 Detroit flyer.jpg

At the end of the evening Team Rivian stormed into the lead thanks to a great A-Main finish and bonus points for sending the most people to support the event.  Of course, the bonus points change, as they are awarded based on participation over all 3 nights of competition.  Team Ford was a close 2nd, just a point behind and tied with Team Nissan.  Team FCA was th, with Team GM and Team Toyota tied for 5th.


Overall a fantastic night with plenty of fun to be passed around and all for a good cause.  If you want to see the pictures of the evening’s races go here and to see the cars in the car show go here.


About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of CarFriend.me and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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