BROOKLYN, Mich. — NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman and Bassmaster Elite Series star Kevin VanDam teamed up in the Fourth Annual Fish Your Bass Off (FYBO) tournament to help a local charity, Aug. 15 at Wamplers Lake, right before the Elite Series event in nearby Detroit.
The tournament drew 52 competitors, mainly local anglers but also VanDam and Newman, who finished third in the event. “A handful of the guys who are boat captains in the Detroit Lions charity event that I put on each year fished in this tournament,” said VanDam.
The Elite Series pro emceed the first FYBO tournament and has fished in the last three with Newman, who also holds a charity bass tournament that VanDam served as the emcee for last year.
“I get a chance to see Ryan Newman a couple of times a year and he loves to fish,” VanDam said. “He is very passionate about bass fishing. So the tournament is a good excuse for us to get together and go fishing.”
The tournament weigh-in, a dinner and live and silent auctions were held at Jerry’s Pub and Restaurant on the lake, a short distance from Michigan International Speedway (MIS).
“It is not that big of a lake, but it is a nice facility to have the tournament,” said VanDam. “A lot of times, there will be other NASCAR personalities who will come to the weigh-in. It is also a convenient location because a lot of race car fans come to town for the weekend race.”
The weigh-in festivities had an estimated crowd of about 250, according to BJ Andonian, owner of Jerry’s Pub. “It was a great time,” said Andonian, who helped coordinate the event with Jayme Bicknell of MIS. “We had a ball doing it.”
Proceeds from admissions to the weigh-in and dinner and the auctions are donated to MIS Cares, a grant-funding program established by the speedway to help local service groups, churches, clubs and other nonprofit organizations earn money for their causes.
“We raised about $20,000 this year with just a main event,” said Bicknell. “Last year, between a qualifying event and a main event, they raised $36,000. We had amazing community support. It’s a long day, but all of the anglers had a great time, and we really appreciate their support.”