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Top 10 Moments of 2017 - #10: Prill Breaks Through

Editor's Note: This is the first of a series of 10 vignettes in which IMS Senior Communications Manager Paul Kelly picks his top 10 moments of 2017 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Stories flowed freely, like the sweat and tears of the winners, as America’s most prestigious amateur racing event, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time Sept. 25-Oct. 1.

More than 1,000 cars were entered into the event, with winners crowned after intense races across the spectrum of Sports Car Club of America classes. But perhaps no win triggered more feel-good’s and tears than when Eric Prill crossed the finish line first Sept. 29 in the F Production class.

Prill finally broke through for his first Nationals victory after 16 previous tries resulted in seven podiums but no victories. Ending that drought was enough to generate tons of good will for Prill.

But there was more to this victory. Far more.

First, Prill embodies everything that’s good about amateur racing. He has continued his passion play of amateur racing even while climbing the executive ranks at SCCA headquarters in Topeka, Kansas. When Prill goes to work every day, he’s keeping SCCA members and racers at the front of his mind during every decision, because he IS one of them.

But the biggest reason tears and joy wove themselves into a happy tapestry after Prill’s victory was simple – SuperMax.

Maxton Prill, the 6-year-old son of Eric Prill and his wife, Robin, was diagnosed with leukemia in November 2013 at age 2. He bravely endured extensive chemotherapy and other treatment over the last four years as he fought to regain his health, and Eric and Robin shared Max’s battle through an organization called Maxton’s Fight to publicly to raise awareness and funds for children like Max fighting this horrible disease and for their lives.

Eric has run SuperMax decals on his car since Max’s diagnosis, and those decals and hero cards also are seen in professional racing paddocks around the country.

So it was beyond poignant when Max was one of the first people to greet his father in Victory Lane at IMS after Prill’s victory. It was arguably the most emotional victory hug of the year at IMS.

Another magic moment after Prill’s win came when Robin Prill rode in the passenger seat of her Eric’s open-top Mazda Miata race car with her husband behind the wheel, holding the checkered flag aloft in triumph around the IMS road course. It was so nice to see the ear-to-ear grins on Eric and Robin Prill – two of the nicest people you’ll meet in racing – after enduring the struggle by their son to survive over the last four years.

Images of this victory weren’t beamed around the world via TV, print and social media like the wins by Takuma Sato, Kasey Kahne, Yoshi Muroya and Lexi Thompson this year at IMS and Brickyard Crossing. But Eric Prill’s victory in F Production at the SCCA National Runoffs will stick with me like no other in 2017 at the Racing Capital of the World.


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Day 10
 
Top 10 Moments of 2017 - #10: Prill Breaks Through
Stories flowed freely, like the sweat and tears of the winners, as America’s most prestigious amateur racing event, the SCCA National Championship Runoffs came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time Sept. 25-Oct. 1.
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