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Teaching young drivers
‘Laps’ event on Dec. 12 aids program
Driver Simulation 2 es
Katie Puls shifts during a driving simulation. - photo by Emily Saunders

* To participate in Laps for Life, call (770) 205-1701, Ext. 1, or go online at

* The Tire Rack Street Survival program has room for five more young drivers. Contact:
Rotarians are on the fast track to raise money for a local nonprofit organization.

For the fifth year in a row, the Rotary Club of Lanier-Forsyth is holding Laps for Life, a quarter-midget racing fundraiser to help educate teenage drivers.

“You’re racing against your colleagues and friends and just having a good time out there on the track, and at the same time, supporting a good cause,” said Andy Burt, club president.

Money raised through the $250 race entry fee goes to the Lanier Extended Area Driver Education Resource, or LEADER, which prepares teenagers for the road through driver’s education courses, simulation and real-life driving instruction.

Through the event and the help of Northside Hospital, founder Michael Hogan said, LEADER has been able to provide 24 new simulators used by area high school students.

“We’re still really looking to build a [practice] track,” Hogan said.

While the race rolls at the Cumming Fairgrounds’ Bill Thomas Raceway, drivers will be traveling more slowlly across the street during the Tire Rack Street Survival program.

The effort offers nearly 30 drivers between ages 16 and 21 the opportunity to practice in a controlled environment.

Created by BMW Car Club of America in 2002, the program is being brought to Forsyth for the first time through the joint effort of local race car driver Seth Thomas and LEADER.

Thomas hopes Laps for Life participants will stop by the survival course to “see what’s going on and what the benefits are for the teen drivers that are involved.”

“LEADER offers a great instruction for the classroom and preparing teens to drive,” he said. “This one here is more of an accident avoidance school ...  the two complement each other.”

About 40 drivers have registered for Laps for Life. Nearly 90 participated in 2007. Burt’s optimistic that extending sign-ups to Dec. 12 will help.

“The spirit of the participants hasn’t changed any,” Burt said. “It’s just a little bit harder to raise the funds and to find as many sponsors as we’ve had in the past.”

Practice is set for 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, with races from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 12.