Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – CHERRY VALLEY, NY – One of the oldest adages in racing is support those who support your racing efforts. For 2018 Empire Super Sprints Rookie of the Year Josh Flint, he and his team have taken that to a whole new level, all the while supporting a dear friend.
Flint, who has worked his way up from the Modified ranks to be a winner in the CRSA Sprint Car Series and now a competitor on the highly-competitive ESS Sprint Tour, has had the backing over the years from the Westerlo, NY-based Hannay Reels. Roger Hannay served as the company’s CEO for 22 years before becoming Chairman of the Board in recent years. Hannay was instrumental in Flint securing the necessary funding to compete in the sport they both shared a love for.
Unfortunately, in February of 2018, Hannay passed away due to some health issues he was having. However, thanks to the support he was given for so many seasons, Flint wanted to repay the favor. That’s how “Racing for Roger” was created.
“His belief in me is why we started the charity after he passed,” Flint said. “I’m extremely grateful for all of our sponsors, but Roger, the Hannay family and Hannay Reels are truly the reason I’ve made it to the level I’m at. They’re why I’ve been able to keep going.”
After his passing, Flint got to work. Even while racing the #41 Sprint Car all over New York State and Canada, Flint Motorsports was able to raise money so they could keep Hannay’s legacy of giving to those in need strong.
“Roger had been dealing with health issues for some time which kept him from coming to see me race,” he said. “Regardless of that, he still continued to support the team and was always giving to others. Not just to our team, but to his church, his local fire department, and many charities. He had a big heart.”
It was that selflessness that Flint, a veteran of the United States Army, admired the most about his friend and supporter.
“I really respected him and looked up to him,” he said. “I wanted to do something to honor him and being that he was an avid pilot, we chose Angel Flight Northeast as the charity was wanted to support last season.”
Angel Flight Northeast is a non-profit organization that coordinates free air transportation for patients whose financial resources wouldn’t otherwise enable them to receive treatment or diagnosis. It also helps patients who may live in rural areas without access to commercial airlines. Flint and his team worked their tails off throughout the 2018 racing season, raising money through any means necessary so they could help Angel Flight in Roger’s name.
“We were able to make a $6,500 donation to their organization at the end of the season,” he said. “That was from the money we raised by selling our T-shirts and many other donations we were able to obtain.”
If you’d like to help with Josh’s “Racing for Roger” program, click here to do so.
Doing this in honor of his friend and longtime supporter was a no-brainer for Flint. He knows the chance Hannay took on him so he could attempt to achieve his dreams. He wants to repay the favor.
“I was given an amazing opportunity to race like I do because of Roger and the Hannay family,” he said. “If I can use this sport and my team as a platform to raise money and awareness while keeping his legacy alive, that’s what I’ll do. I want to give back.”
Now this isn’t a one-time thing they did. Flint and his team have plans to keep working at this so the “Racing for Roger” program is around for years to come.
“As long as I’m racing, we’ll be raising money for him,” he said. “We’ll take 100% of our merchandise sales and whatever donations we receive and give it to charity. We’re not sure if it will be to Angel Flight again or a different organization each year. Roger gave of himself to so many different groups. We want to ensure that as many people as possible know what a generous man he was.”
The Hannay Reels logo will, once again, be emblazed on Flint’s Sprint Cars in 2019, and that is something he’s extremely proud of. Even with Roger’s passing, he’s grateful that the family still believes in him and Flint has raced each lap because of that belief. He knows Roger’s watching as well and wants to put on a good show for him.
“It’s amazing that this company has stuck behind me through the ups and downs of my career,” he said. “They have become more than sponsors to me. They’re family. When Roger passed away at the start of last season, I’m not going to lie. It was really tough. He was always so supportive of me, and his family rallied behind our team to keep his love of racing going.”
They say you should pay it forward, right? When someone supports you, you take that example and support others. That lesson isn’t lost on Josh Flint. He’s a Military Vet who understands giving of yourself to help those in need. Now he’s doing that again, just with a full-faced helmet and a 360ci. injected engine while kicking up dirt.
Way to go Josh. Way to go Flint Motorsports. Way to show keep your Roger’s legacy of generosity alive. Well done!