Donny Edwards has never missed a 25 Hours of Thunderhill and his friends weren’t about to let the streak end.
Just 10 weeks after getting out of the hospital for treatment of lymphoma, Edwards was out on the track driving for Edge Motorworks MV and raising awareness about cancer.
“I couldn’t even spell cancer. I was pretty naïve,” said Edwards, whose cancer is in remission. “I couldn’t have done it without all the support, my team (at the hospital). I’m a hyperactive person, so I was constantly pushing the envelope on trying to do more and more. They were slowing me down.”
Edwards’ world forever changed earlier this year when a toothache turned out to be cancer. Instead of jetting off to race in Italy, Edwards immediately went into Huntsman Cancer Institute to start cancer treatment. He spent five and a half months in the hospital before being released.
When friends heard Edwards was out of the hospital and strong enough to race, they had to whip an E46 into shape before the endurance race. The team also wanted to race for a cause, raising money for F*#k Cancer, a group that promotes early detection, prevention and support for those affected by cancer. Those who donated money to the charitable cause got to sign the side of the car at the track.
“When it hits home as hard as it did and then to see him make a remarkable recovery, it’s just like, Donny, if you’re well enough to get in the car, we’re building you a car,” said team owner Anthony Zwain. “The whole team rallied around it.”
Edwards drove the car for two one-hour stints including the start and finish of the endurance race. The team had a wheel stud and radio issues during the race and the car later developed an overheating problem. The crew was able to fix the problems and still turn 642 laps, which placed the team 14th in the 19-car E0 field.
“If one person goes and gets screened and catches something early because of this, then we’ve done our job,” said driver Matt Powers, who also helped crew the team. “Even if it’s just donating a little bit of money to the organization and helping raise awareness, then it’s a win.”
Although Edwards had a long layoff from racing while in the hospital, he was able to get some laps in at Ford Performance Racing School where he works before competing at Thunderhill.
“I wasn’t pulling the cancer card, I was right back into normal Donny mode driving-wise,” Edwards said. “We don’t forget how to drive, that’s one thing. It’s kind of like swimming.”