Fast track: Boys and Girls Club take ride at Bristol Motor Speedway

Celebrating in the Sharpie Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway are, from left, Tyler Holder, Adonis Salter, Kris Dockery, Malik Salter, Tavon Russell, Joe Taylor, Charlie Roberts (in back), Codey Clabough, Gaige Swanner, Taylor Gaskin, Corbin Smith, Nunu Rehan, Abang Rehan, Brianna Webb and Paul Sudderth.

Celebrating in the Sharpie Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway are, from left, Tyler Holder, Adonis Salter, Kris Dockery, Malik Salter, Tavon Russell, Joe Taylor, Charlie Roberts (in back), Codey Clabough, Gaige Swanner, Taylor Gaskin, Corbin Smith, Nunu Rehan, Abang Rehan, Brianna Webb and Paul Sudderth.

“Wow.” “Awesome.” “Cool.”

Those were a few of the reactions the kids at the Parkside and Eagleton branch of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Blount County had as the Worlds Fastest Half Mile came into sight on their way to tour the Bristol Motor Speedway. It only got better from there.

Fourteen kids spent a Monday afternoon touring the site of one of NASCAR’s most popular venues. It was an exciting and informative experience for all 14 kids and their adult chaperones. The kids enjoyed pizza and Pepsi high atop the speedway in one of the luxury suites overlooking the half-mile oval.

Though it took a few of them a minute to adjust to the height, the view of the awesome facility was a great start to the day. Their host, Wes Ramey who handles media, public relations and credentials at B.M.S., gave the group a short history lesson on the track. The group then went to see the suite of track owner Bruton Smith. They couldn’t believe how nicely furnished the start/finish line luxury suite was!

The highlight of the afternoon for everyone was heading out to the track for a couple of laps in the Boys & Girls Club bus. Paul Sudderth, who drove the bus that transported the kids to Bristol, was excited, and the kids followed suit. The kids had talked with me before the trip about several things, including the concept of the 36-degree banking at Bristol, but it wasn’t until they headed into the first turn that they fully understood how much of an incline it is.

I heard shouts of “lean to the right” coming from the club members on the bus all the way down Thunder Valley. The kids were excited when they were able to get out of the bus and run up the embankment. The excitement level had not left them as they arrived at the Fan Zone.

At the Fan Zone, they played NASCAR 2007 on the X-Box and looked at the cars, driver suits, trophies and other memorabilia that lined the Fan Zone Experience walls. They finished up their day at the merchandise store where several of them purchased race-themed trinkets to remember the day.

The boys and girls kept their excitement and enthusiasm throughout the day and talked about it until their parents picked them up. Most ran out of the door of the club telling their parents about their experiences.

I think it is safe to say that you can add 14 young people from the Boys and Girls Clubs to the 160,000 plus NASCAR fans that love the Bristol Motor Speedway.

As part of a new Motorsports Club being formed by the Boys and Girls Clubs, interested club members will do several motorsports-related field trips and activities over the next few months. Those trips and activities, in conjunction with improved grades, related trivia contests, poster contests, essay contests and letters of reference from teachers and parents, will win four Boys and Girls Club members a trip to Charlotte in May to have a private lunch with NASCAR star Jeff Gordon.

Special thanks to the folks at Bristol Motor Speedway for allowing the kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Blount County this experience.

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