Keen Parts Races for Autism Awareness in Michigan

Ryan Ellis #44 Keen Parts / Autism Awareness in Michigan. Image Alpha Prime Racing

Tom and TJ Keen of Keen Parts ( are proud to announce that they will be using a special Autism Awareness paint scheme this week in the NASCAR Xfinity Series New Holland 250 at Michigan International Speedway with driver Ryan Ellis and Alpha Prime Racing.

The plan was conceived by the family of former NHL player and Stanley Cup champion Chris Thorburn and his wife Sara. Their three children, Bennett, Mary and Oscar, created the hand-drawn colorful scheme to raise awareness of autism.

Bennett, an avid NASCAR fan, was diagnosed with autism at age four and learned number recognition and counting through race cars. Since then, the Thorburn family has been attending races in Michigan for several years. Mary and Oscar, as always, stood by Bennett’s side and helped him with the plan – they wrote: “Autism Lives Matter, Be a Friend”, powerful words that will be displayed on the lower side panel and bumper of the No. 44 Keen Parts Chevy.

“We would like to sincerely thank Tom and TJ Keen of Keen Parts, Alpha Prime Racing and NASCAR Driver and friend Ryan Ellis for this amazing opportunity. NASCAR has been a big part of our family’s lives ever since we realized Bennett was using Mattel’s die-cast cars to recognize, learn, and count numbers. We were lucky enough to be introduced to the NASCAR family years ago and have been huge fans ever since. The people in the sport are so caring, understanding and willing to help no matter the cause. It really has a family atmosphere. We visited MIS 4 years ago and with the help of Chris Biby we were introduced to Ryan Ellis. This man is the epitome of what we think NASCAR is. Not only is he a great driver, but he is so caring, loving and giving. We can’t do enough for him for the opportunity he and the team have given our family, not only was it a fun family project but the kids will see the car drive the car they designed, drive the race and hopefully bring a smile to the families who can relate to our situation, but also to raise awareness for the autism community,” said Sara and Chris Thorburn., a Tom and TJ Keen company, sells parts and accessories for Corvette owners of all generations. They have used their sponsorship for many charities and have been loyal NASCAR sponsors for over 10 years. The Keen’s have graciously chosen to donate much of their sponsorship space to raise awareness and support charities.

“I am so proud to lead this plan and so grateful that Tom and TJ Keen made it happen for the Thorburn family. They have so much to do with their sponsorship that they can do a lot more than promote their business. They have really used it as a platform to help other people and put a smile on people’s faces. I met the Thorburn’s a few years ago at Michigan International Speedway while working for Go Fas Racing, ironically on a Keen sponsored race weekend. The Thorburn’s couldn’t be nicer people – you meet them and immediately feel like you’ve known them for years and we feel so lucky to be able to do something for Bennett and their family and hope it brings some awareness to autism. My wife [Allison] works in mental health and it means a lot to our family too,” said Ellis, driver of the No. 44 Keen Parts Chevy.

— Alpha Prime Racing —

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