Scouting's Philanthropic Foundation: Dale and Gail Coyne

Why we give: Lessons in how to be a good person.

LIKE MILLIONS OF OTHER BOYS, one of Dale Coyne’s early exposures to racing came when he was a Cub Scout. “I did pinewood derby and all the things like going away for your first camp, which was very memorable,” he recalls. After that, his career and the career of a typical Cub Scout diverged somewhat. Dale went on to drive racecars, competing against the world’s top open-wheel racers and heading up his own IndyCar racing team.

Open up the hood of a racecar, and the Coynes, shown in the photo above, believe a new world of knowledge opens up to a Scout.

Now Dale and Scouting have come back together in the form of Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 racecar, bearing the red-white-and-blue Boy Scouts of America logo. Beginning with the 2010 season, the BSA car has been seen across the country—and around the world—at IndyCar events.

It all began the year before during a race in Texas, when Dale saw a group of uniformed Boy Scouts watching the pit activity from behind a fence. He invited the Scouts in for a look. What happened next changed racing, as well as Scouting.

Gail Coyne, Dale’s wife and partner in racing, recalls that one particular Scout’s reaction sealed the deal. “It was indescribable, the look on his face when he was able to get into the car and touch everything and go in the trucks. At the end of the race we took him up into the stands and the whole crew turned around and waved at him. Just the look on his face! Dale turned around and said, ‘We’re in.’”

Now that Scouting is an official Dale Coyne Racing (DCR) sponsor, far larger numbers of Scouts have been treated to an up-close look at the most technologically advanced racecars in the world. And the results have been consistently striking. The reason, the Coynes believe, is the close alignment between the goals and values of the two organizations. Primarily, these goals involve giving youngsters a chance to realize their dreams and encouraging young people to get interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

The typical Scout that Dale encounters at one of the events hasn’t decided on a career—at least not yet. He recalls one who announced, after a behind-the-scenes IndyCar racing experience, that he was going to Purdue University to become an engineer. “He would not have had that experience without Scouting,” Dale says. “It teaches you leadership and gives you drive and desire.”

In addition to getting to sit inside show cars, Scouts who visit with the DCR team see on big-screen monitors how technicians use computers to tune the cars and plan the race strategies. The experience serves as an eye-opening indication of the amount of technology incorporated into these vehicles. “They thought it was just a racecar that goes around the track,” Dale says. “It’s like a control room at NASA. They never realized that happened for a racecar.”

With 2.8 million active Scouts, about half that many adult leaders, and 50 million alumni, Scouting represents an unmatched opportunity for DCR to reach out to current and potential race fans. For instance, about 1.5 million Scouts live within 100 miles of cities where the Coyne cars race during a typical year. But the Coynes believe that more can be done to expose kids to cutting-edge STEM topics in a riveting racing format.

Dale envisions a mobile unit incorporating show racecars and demonstrations of the high-tech design and components that go into the vehicle. This would allow them to bring the show and the appeal to venues far from any racetrack. “Think of large camporees where you can reach thousands of kids in a weekend,” he says. “We can’t bring all the kids to the races.”

Dale Coyne and a Cub Scout share a similar youthful smile during a hands-on demonstration inside a racecar.

The Coynes also hope that they can leverage their involvement with Scouting as encouragement for other supporters to come on board and enable that expansion of the program away from the track. “We’re looking to grow the program into a full show-car event that travels the country through the entire year and not just the towns where we race,” Gail says.

After 34 starts as a driver and 367 starts during 28 years as an owner, including a best-ever first-place finish at Watkins Glen in 2009, Dale has come a long way from that first pinewood derby. He regards his involvement with Scouting through DCR, though, not as an ending but as a beginning. “It’s a great tool for the Scouts, and they’ve done a great job of using it,” Dale says. “But we can do more.”

The Boy Scouts of America National Foundation ( provides a full range of philanthropic and charitable gift services for donors and their advisors. Its primary mission is to support local, national, and international Scouting programs and initiatives.

Why we give: Lessons in how to be a good person

DALE AND GAIL COYNE don’t have any children of their own. At least, until recently. “They now tell us we have 2.8 million kids,” Gail says. “That’s fine with us.”

Of course, the involvement of the Coynes and Dale Coyne Racing with Scouting involves more than surrogate parenting of a few million boys. The Coynes chose to support Scouting because they like what the movement does for boys of all ages, all places, and all circumstances.

“Scouting seems to give them a stable and rounded view of the things that are happening,” Gail says. “Not to mention the life skills.” Scouts, she says, grow up better equipped to prosper in the 21st century, thanks to lessons about self-reliance and leadership they learn in the program.

Dale points to similar explanations for the connection. “It’s because of the values it teaches you—how to be a good person, how to be a good citizen, how to take care of the environment and be a leader,” he says. The Coynes and Scouting also share an overarching vision and objective of getting boys interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

But for the Coynes, it’s hard to ignore the joy of interacting with Scouts. “They sit in that show car and their faces just light up,” Dale says. “They’re beaming at getting to do something they never thought they could.”

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