Race car driver honors those who lost lives to cancer
WYE MILLS — Cordova NASCAR racer, 22 year-old Tyler Hughes, has been racing his NASCAR Late Model Series with the number eight, honoring several Mid-Shore residents who have lost their lives to cancer.
Those who lost their lives include Dale Patrick, 63, of Centreville, who died on March 28, 2018; Sirena O’Neil, 62, of Chestertown, lost her life on Aug. 25, 2017; Gaye Ann McHenry, 59, of Greensboro, died Nov. 11, 2017; Cindy Schlotzhauer, 59, of Centreville, died Dec. 8, 2017; Hughes’ dad, Donald; Shelia White, friend of Tyler’s mom, Donna Hughes, died Jan. 2010; and Caleb Hammond, 11, of Oskaloosa and What Cheer, Iowa, who died on Sept 10, 2018.
The honorary car first raced on Saturday, Sept. 29, in Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, and he won with the number on Oct. 6 at the Dominion Speedway in Virginia. He raced the car, detailed by Sign Connection, all in October and November.
“It is special to me because I get to put other people’s faces on and represent their families as well,” Hughes said. “I wanted to do breast cancer as a whole, which is why we are going pink for this race, and the rest of the races that we do in October. But, its not only about breast cancer, but all cancers, and trying to find a cure for all of them. I wanted to honor those people and it was a great tribute to them.”
Patrick proudly served in law enforcement for 40 years with the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office, Denton Police Department and the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, where he served as a Lieutenant and Public Information Officer. He received three Governor’s Citations, a Life-Saving Commendation and, most recently, the Jason Schwenz Award — the highest honor presented by the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office.
His wife, Michelle Patrick, was very honored to have her husband’s picture in Hughes’s car because he was a big fan of race cars.
“[He] was a big race car fan, so its quite an honor to him, and he’d be proud,” said Michelle. “His favorite driver was Dale Earnhardt Jr. He loved them all but [Earnhardt] was his favorite driver. He loved the patriotism that is associated with racing, the anthem at the beginning of the race and the prayers. I’m proud to be here.”
Schlotzhauer was a licensed Maryland Realtor with Rita S. Petitt Realtors of Easton. According to her obituary, she was the glue that kept everything together at her full-time job at Centreville Manufacturing (Tag-A-Long) as a secretary, human resources, bookkeeping and running numbers for the past 15 years. She also helped her husband with his business, MD Signcrafters.
McHenry was a 1976 graduate of Tussey Mountain High School and received her AA degree from the Allegheny Community College in Cumberland.
She worked in Queenstown as a Lab Technician for University of Maryland Shore Health. She attended St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Denton, where she was a member of the Sara Circle
Her husband Jim McHenry, of Greensboro, said that Hughes has gained new fans because he is raising awareness about cancer.
“It’s great that he is racing to try to find a cure for not only brain cancer, but all forms of cancers,” said Jim. “It’s a nice tribute that a local driver is willing to honor the local survivors, a little tribute to everybody.”
O’Neil spent most of her life in the restaurant business and considered her customers like family. According to her obituary, there was no place that she would rather be than on the beaches of Daytona. She also loved spending time riding on the back of her husband’s Harley.
Her husband, Michael O’Neil, of Chestertown, is still mourning her death, and was happy that her life is being honored.
“I’m still mourning and it is very emotional to me, but she’d be proud to be on here,” said Michael. “She never went to NASCAR race, but she would go to drag strip to watch her son. I took the kids to NASCAR when they were growing up all the time.”
Hammond was a wellknown race fan around the country when he died of leukemia. He loved his siblings so much that while at the hospital, he would often be sad because he couldn’t be nearer to them, according to his obituary. Hammond also had a huge love for animals, especially his beloved Yorkie, Pee Wee.
In his free time, Hammond loved riding his bike, building Legos, attending races with his Uncle Chris, playing with his trains, drawing, fishing and trapping, school, spending time with his family, yelling at his siblings and pranking his nurses and doctors. Hammond was an avid race fan and Green Bay Packers fan.
Hughes also honored his father, Donald not only on his car, but also during his victory on Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Dominion Speedway. It was a memorable moment for him and his mother.
“We pulled into victory lane and [Donna] came up running up to me and she had small urn with dad’s ashes in it or a little bit of his ashes; and that surprised me,” Hughes recalled. “We had talked about you know bringing [Donald’s] along with us, and she actually did it and we managed to pull it off. Plus the Thursday night race that we ended up doing last year, the Thursday night race that we did at Dominion was the last race dad was at, so, that was really special.”
This is not the first time Hughes raced with honor. In a K&N Pro Series Race at Dover International Speedway, Hughes’ G2 Racing 08 Ford was sporting a pink and white paint scheme for local charity Pink Cares of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, which raises money for cancer patients.
Hughes started racing at the age of five and has 17 years of racing experience. His NASCAR K&N Pro Series experience includes nine career starts, and one career top 10.
His NASCAR Late Model Stock Series career includes 13 Wins, 2012 NASCAR Virginia Rookie of the Year, 2012 ODS Rookie of the Year. Legend cars: 20 Wins, 2011 ODS Track Championship, 2011 MARF Horizon Award. Modlites includes 19 Wins, 2007 DMP Track Championship.
In Quarter Midgets he has more than 100 Wins in 8 classes and multiple tracks, one points championship and one Grand National Title.
Cordova racer Tyler Hughes honors Mid-Shore residents who lost their battles with cancer by racing a number with their pictures in the number. Family members gather with Hughes to dedicate the number.
The number honors the late Dale Patrick, of Centreville; Sirena O’Neil, of Chestertown; Gaye Ann McHenry, of Greensboro; Cindy Schlotzhauer, Centreville; Hughes’ dad, Donald; Shelia White; and Caleb Hammond.