CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ryan Repko, a 19-year-old racer who recently completed his freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is doing his part to honor the victims of the April 30 shooting on the school’s campus.
Repko’s No. 14 late model stock car will feature a special UNC Charlotte tribute paint scheme during Saturday’s CARS Tour Heritage Truck Centers 250 at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.
The car will feature the UNC Charlotte logo and colors and the phrase “Charlotte Strong” will be emblazoned on the hood of Repko’s car. The names of the two victims who died in the shooting — Ellis Parlier and Riley Howell — will appear above the doors of the car.
“For the last year UNC Charlotte has been a second home to me,” said Repko, who is majoring in finance at UNC Charlotte. “A lot of the times when you see a tragedy that hits close to home for a driver you’ll honor the area with a small decal or something like that. I just really wanted to do the whole car.”
Repko is offering race fans the chance to purchase laps during the Heritage Truck Centers 250. Fans can visit https://crowdfund.uncc.edu/project/15641 to make a donation. Repko is asking for $20 donation per lap.
The late model stock portion of the Heritage Truck Centers 250 is 125 laps and if Repko is able to sell every lap for $20, he’ll raise $2,500.
“I wanted to turn it into a fundraising effort because I didn’t feel like it really … it provided emotional support but it doesn’t really help anything unless I generate money to go help the cause,” Repko said. “The goal would be to fill up all those spots (laps).
“If one kid gets killed at school, that’s one too many. But at the same time, it means a lot to be able to help provide some sort of support and relief to my community.”
Saturday’s race at Motor Mile Speedway will be Repko’s first of the season with the CARS Tour. He has 10 career starts with the series and earned a best finish of fourth last year at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, N.C.
“We tested up at Motor Mile last week and we had a lot of speed,” Repko said. “It would be a really special win for myself, but not only myself and the area that I’m in — Charlotte — if we were able to put it in victory lane. It would really be something special.”
Repko said the plan is only to run the tribute scheme this weekend at Motor Mile, but if the fundraising effort takes off he may run the car a few more times this year or even for the full season.
“We don’t have any plans as far as raising money beyond this weekend, but if it’s something that people seem to like we have tossed out the possibility of running the paint scheme the rest of the season, or if not a few more races,” Repko said.
“I’m honestly tickled to death with how much this has taken off and how much people are supporting it. It’s just insane. I’m so proud of the community I’m a part of.”