Swamp buggy races raise thousands for local charities

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NAPLES , Fla. – It’s a sport that has been practiced in Florida since the 1940s, and those who know it well call it the best kept secret in the state.  Now, they hope to grab your attention.

They speed, they splash, and it’s a sport unique to the sunshine state. “When you get these things on the track you get two or three of them out there side by side doing 60, 70 miles per hour,” said racer Andy Sims. “There’s nothing like it in the world.”

Racers take these machines to the limit, as they attempt to be the first to cross the finish line.  Some of them as young as 18 years old.
“Literally turned 16, sold the car bought this thing,” says Jordan Gardner.  Her buggy flipped over during one of her first races.”It flipped me upside down,” she said.  “Didn’t scare me.  I’m still here. ”

Her father is also a racer.  He was terrified.

“Asked her if she was okay, and all she was worried about was her buggies upside down in a hole, wheels sticking out of the water a few inches. All she was worried about was fixing it,” said Reece Gardner.
For many of the riders out here, like Andy Sims, it’s a family tradition. His father was a racer.

“He’s enjoying it, I’m enjoying it.  It’s good father, son time,” said Sims.
The stands are full of screaming fans on race day, but what they may not realize is that by coming out to the swamp, they’re helping out local charities.

“Harry Chapin Food Bank, Shelter for abused women and children, we give back to the community somewhere around $10,000 per race.” said Chris Dupree, executive director for the Florida Sports Park.

All that money adds up to around $50,000 a year. Dupree says it’s neighbors helping neighbors. “That’s why we exist.  We exist to keep the sport alive and to give back to the community, through funds and helping others, as well as giving them a place to entertain.”

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