SONOMA, Calif. – Brian McEnnerney thought he was coming to Sonoma Raceway for what has become an annual visit with his favorite driver, Will Power, and the Verizon Team Penske team.
Power provided a bonus by giving the young man from Daly City, Calif., the thrill of his life.
The Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader and McEnnerney took two laps in a pace car around the 2.385-mile, 12-turn natural-terrain layout, offering the teenager with cerebral palsy a whole new perspective on his hometown track.
“It was a real joy to do that for Brian,” Power said. “He didn’t know about it and I told him, ‘I’m going out around the track, do you want to come?’ The look in his eyes and he was looking at his mom, asking, ‘Can I go or not?’ The smile on his face when we were out there told me he loved it.”
McEnnerney, who met Power at an autograph session in San Francisco in 2010, is confined to a wheelchair and communicates by signing. He and his father, Jim, watch all of the Verizon IndyCar Series races and he studies Power’s in-car camera views.
“He’s seen the track from all the in-car cameras and now he’s been around it,” Power said. “He’s a really smart kid. Unfortunately, his body just doesn’t function the right way. It helps you put thing in perspective when you see a kid like that confined to a wheel chair. I love doing things like that for Brian. It was awesome to see him smile so much.”
And if riding shotgun wasn’t a thrill enough, Power ended the ride with a few smoky donuts just before the pit entrance.
“Anytime I started sliding the car around, he would start laughing,” Power said. “I thought, this car doesn’t have any of the traction turned on so I should be able to do some donuts. He was laughing the whole time.”
The ride home in the family minivan just didn't cut it.