Dan Piña used the crowd-funding site www.fundme.com to cover expenses for him and his crew to travel from Chicago to Sonoma, Calif. A $100 donation got your name on his car. Piña ended up raising $1,500 and finishing third in the Western States Championships.

It turns out that the Internet isn’t just for porn. No, really, people actually use the Internet for other reasons. Just ask NASA Midwest racer Dan Piña, who desperately wanted to race his Spec 944 in the NASA Western States Championships presented by Toyo Tires at Sonoma Raceway.

Piña lives in Chicago, a solid 2,100 miles away from the twisty pavement of Sonoma Raceway. The long tow was going to cost a pretty penny. This is where the Internet saved the day. Piña heard a story of a guy who used Kickstarter to raise money so he could make a potato salad. He thought a few close friends would donate 50 to 60 bucks. The story went viral, and the result of this online money raising campaign was $70,000. That got Piña thinking maybe he could put together a campaign on www.fundme.com and see if he could raise money to cover fuel expenses for the long tow to California.

“I figured a few friends would kick in $200,” said Piña, who wrote a funny little story about his proposed adventure and posted it online: “Fund this chubby Mexican-American to chase his racing dreams.” Piña set up the campaign so that a $100 donation would get a person’s name on the car – the result: $1,500 cash and a donated Porsche transmission.

“The whole thing was so exciting and humbling. It was really cool. I couldn’t believe it,” he said. He called his two friends/crew members, Scott Molitor and Piotr Pacholek, and asked if they could go to California with him. “I knew if I had $800 for gas, $300 for hotels, and $200 to fly a crew member, we could do it, and we got it. We packed up the truck and rolled out.”

Back in August, Dan finished second in Spec 944 at the NASA Eastern States Championships at Road Atlanta and he was hoping for another solid finish in California. At Sonoma he took his No. 149, 1983 Porsche 944, sponsored by Pinetree Motorsports (as well as a bunch of gracious folks from fundme.com) and finished on the podium in third.

“That was the icing on the cake,” he said. “It’s very hard to get on the podium in spec classes.” With a second-place finish in the Eastern States Championships and a third place at the Western States Championships, Piña said, “I think that makes me the 2.5 nationally ranked 944 Spec racer.”

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