Representatives from 150 food companies will jockey for position, take curves on the racetrack and speed through the finish line for the charity of their choice -- all from the comfort of their virtual racecars at Phoenix Civic Plaza.

U.S. Food Service, Phoenix, is sponsoring this charity event to facilitate friendly competition between food companies and raise money for a variety of good causes. The event will take place Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 6-7 p.m. at the Phoenix Civic Plaza, Hall D.

These representatives will meet the evening before the Phoenix 2000 Food Show and contribute $25 each to compete in a virtual reality Race for Charity. Four representatives will race at a time and the $100 contribution will go to whichever national or local charity the winner chooses.

"We are anticipating a really positive response," U.S. Food Services spokesperson Orlando Andrade said. "The races will be held right after the food company reps set up their booths, so we hope to attract most of them to the event. All the major food companies, such as Nabisco, Kraft and Tyson will be there," Orlando said.

"Just think, a person from Heinz may be racing against someone from Hunts, and it's all for a good cause."

Racers will each contribute $25 and strap into four virtual reality pods, equipped with headgear, joysticks and surround sound. The four individuals will then race while spectators view the action on nearby monitors. Each race will last 2-4 minutes and the winner will then decide which charity receives the $100 pool.

Digital Tech Frontier is supplying the virtual reality racing simulator equipment, called "Emotion Simulators." The pods will move with the action and competitors will sit in "thunder seats" that vibrate and rumble with a subwoofer attached to the seat back.

While experiencing the race in 3-D, they will even be able to smell relevant stimuli like burning rubber or pine trees and flowers as they pass. It is a truly sensory experience that will add to the enjoyment of the race.

U.S. Food Service is the second largest food service distributor in the United States, supplying food to businesses and institutions such as hospitals, schools, resorts and restaurants. The Phoenix 2000 Food Show will be held Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2000 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. in Hall D of the Phoenix Civic Plaza. The show is open to foodservice operators.