By Peg McRoy
Briana Mulvihill, executive director of the Wings & Wheels Foundation, has lived most of her life in and around racetracks. Her brother was a junior dragster and then moved up to go-carts.
Why is that important to Mulvihill’s current position? Her brother’s passion for racing meant Mulvihill grew up a member of a racing family. In the world of racing, that means something.
“I remember being in the shop and hanging out with my dad,” said Mulvihill. “It wasn’t uncommon for us to go to and watch races on the weekends. We have always been a racing family. Racing is a family sport.”
The Wings & Wheels Foundation was formed in the past couple of years by Mark and Alora McAlister. The main goal of their foundation is to help, fund, and train young racers, making it the perfect spot for Mulvihill to step in and take the lead.
Mulvihill, who has a background in nonprofits and has worked as an EMT at the track, calls her position with Wings & Wheels a God thing. She says that she was at the right place, at the right time, and met the right people, Mark and Alora McAlister.
“They have a heart for helping people,” said Mulvihill. “They are fantastic. They started the foundation because they saw a need in the kids who are into racing, have amazing talent, but don’t come from money. It has become a highly expensive sport. The foundation addresses that need and helps kids who have the raw talent move up to the next level.”
Alora attributes her excitement for bringing the foundation to fruition to when her husband, Mark, suggested they create it to help the next generation of racers.
“Mark talked about putting this foundation together to protect and encourage the next generation of racers,” said Alora. “They need to be looked after and racing is the perfect vehicle to help train our future leaders.”
The McAlisters value everything that Mulvihill brings to her position.
“Briana has been very instrumental in perfecting and growing it (the Wheels & Wings Foundation). She is really the power behind the growth and success that we are already experiencing,” said Alora. “We are very blessed to have her. We have her and her family because they are 100% behind her and they are very much involved in the foundation. They are as passionate about the foundation as we are. We not only get her, we get her family too.”
Kids generally start out racing go-carts. As they get older, they can progress to sprint cars or another level of go-carts. Each level gets more expensive. The most common route out of go-carts is open wheel racing. The feeder series leads up to the minor and major leagues. The foundation can fit anywhere within that stratus helping young drivers by teaching them how to market, fundraise, and obtain sponsors.
In addition to training young drivers on the financial side of their sport, they offer “seat time” too. A driver development program is also offered. Many kids just need seat time to practice and test. They take these young racers to the Kart Circuit Autobahn in Joliet, Illinois where they can get into a car, have seat time (drive laps) and practice.
Mulvihill never aspired to be a race driver. She started out as a paramedic in 2014. And, guess where? The ambulance company she worked for had a contract with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Every year she worked at the IMS and discovered that her love of racing had never waivered and only grew with every step she took at the track.
It is also where she met another love of her life, Ray Mulvihill. Ray is a firefighter with Washington Township located just west of Indianapolis. He is on the fire team at IMS.
Appropriately enough, they got engaged on the yard of bricks during the first Red Bull Air Race at the IMS.
Briana and Ray live in Danville with their three kids, Aiden 16, Lorelai 14, and Drew 12.
“I am so lucky because I could not do what I do without Ray’s support,” said Mulvihill. “He is onboard with everything I do. He believes in the mission just as much as the rest of us at the Wings & Wheels Foundation.”
Mulvihill has been on the job long enough now to really sink her teeth into all the possibilities the foundation offers. One of her top priorities is getting the word out to more young talented racers.
To learn more about Wings & Wheels go to wingsandwheels.com
Wings and Wheels Foundation
5445 S East Street, Indianapolis, IN 46227
With an eye toward diversity, the Wings & Wheels Foundation helps promising young drivers advance to the next level of achievement in their careers.
Crafting The Future Stars Of Racing
ON AND OFF THE TRACK
Professional Level Fundamentals For Young Race Drivers:
- The easiest, most affordable, and flexible transitional program
- To learn how to make the transition from karting to open wheel and what to expect
- Over 100 Years of team member combined experience in all levels of racing
- Race and test in the actual perennial championship contending cars
- Personalized individual and group testing with coaching evaluations
- Skills development: Developing crucial disciplines both on and off the track
- Mentorship and Coaching: Leadership from proven world-class talent
- Sponsorship: Offering fun and exciting ways to get involved