1999 Jimmy Steigerwald Had An Idea
was an idea to help all the many needy children who, through unfortunate
circumstances, would face Christmas morning with little or no gifts.
And through Steigerwald’s initial idea, coupled with various others
involved in Motorsports who have lent a hand, Racers for
Tots was born. Today Racers for Tots, which is affiliated
with the Marines Toys
for Tots Foundation, has grown and evolved to enormous success
and Steigerwald has set goals, somewhat lofty, but nonetheless attainable.
“It started several years ago when I took my wife to lunch downtown,”
explained Jimmy Steigerwald, who serves as the Assistant Pit Steward
at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway and is known as “The Sheriff”,
when asked about the origins of the Racers for Tots organization
he founded. “There was a distribution center for the Marines Toys
for Tots Program. We were walking by and something made me turn
right and go in there. I went in and asked how I could get involved.
They started explaining and I said I was with racers. And they said,
‘What are they?’ (Laughs) And I told them car racers and that we
had our own fraternity more or less.”
“I told them I worked at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway
and that we were having a Christmas party and I thought I would
suggest that everyone bring a toy. And the first year we did like
$1,000. So the second year I started earlier and we did $10,000.
And this year we had a bike run, a car smash, and other functions.
I feel like Jerry Lewis you know because it’s different people who
want to get involved. And it’s growing....”
Racers or Tots has grown so fast that it has become like a full
time job for Steigerwald, but you will hear no complaints from him.
He enjoys it and one gets the impression the enthusiastic Steigerwald
would not have it any other way.
Although the program is based in the Pittsburgh, PA area, Steigerwald
isn’t content. He is already formulating plans to take the program
to loftier heights.
“It’s something we would like to go national with,” explained Steigerwald.
“I always use the example, like at Dover that one time they had
like 160,000 people and that’s just one race. And I said if every
guy that went to that race would give ten dollars to help get a
kid a present, that’s a million and six hundred thousand dollars.
That’s amazing.” Steigerwald is also quick to point out the
success of the program is due to the generosity of the racing community.
“We try to stress we’re racers and it’s ‘racing’,” said Steigerwald.
“That’s car racing, motorcycle racing, boat racing, drag racing.
All racers. We’re all a fraternity. And that’s what we’re trying
to do. Same with the race tracks. We’re trying to get more race
Steigerwald’s mission has also attracted many others who have lent
a helping hand to the worthwhile program. All who participate have
enthusiasm for the project.
for Tots fundraising events aren’t only confined to December. Steigerwald
and associates stay busy with the project all year.