The Ritz-Carlton in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, played host to a spectacular 39th annual Speedway Children's Charities Gala presented by Sonic Automotive and EchoPark on Wednesday night, with the far-reaching nonprofit raising more than $1 million for children in need throughout the greater Charlotte region.

"This year's Speedway Children's Charities Gala presented by Sonic Automotive and EchoPark saw our donations exceed $1 million on a night full of fun and festivities," said Lisa Starnes, executive director of the Charlotte Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities. "We are honored to have enjoyed such a productive evening, and it's a credit to our many sponsors and supporters."

The evening included a menu designed by world-class Chef Robert Irvine of Food Network's "Restaurant: Impossible" fame and live music from country music star Justin Moore. The black-tie gala also featured a special recognition for NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton, one of NASCAR's most significant leaders for five decades and a longtime supporter of and advocate for Speedway Children's Charities.

"Mike Helton is one of the most influential people in NASCAR, a longtime supporter of Speedway Children's Charities and a very deserving person to be honored," said Marcus Smith, vice chairman of Speedway Children's Charities. "Our gala gave us the chance to thank Mike for his commitments to the NASCAR industry and all of its stakeholders as well as Speedway Children's Charities. It was a great night. Thanks to the generosity of everyone in attendance, their support will enable us to really further our reach toward helping kids in the greater Charlotte region."

Other NASCAR dignitaries who attended the gala included Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Executive Chairman O. Bruton Smith; Sonic Automotive and EchoPark CEO David B. Smith; NASCAR President Steve Phelps; NASCAR Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors Lesa France-Kennedy, and 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Joe Gibbs - on the day he was voted into the Hall - as well as fellow NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Jarrett and Ken Squier. FOX NASCAR personalities including Adam Alexander, Shannon Spake, Michael Waltrip and Regan Smith were in attendance, as were Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and all-pro linebacker Luke Kuechly and former NFL players Jason Sehorn and Kevin Donnalley.

Since Bruton Smith founded Speedway Children's Charities in 1982, the organization has awarded $53 million to other nonprofits across the country. Speedway Children's Charities are operated by Speedway Motorsports, Inc.

For more information on Speedway Children's Charities or to see how to volunteer or make a donation, visit