I was just 13-years old when I presented my first school program titled “The Science and Mathematics of Racing” at Lincoln County High School in Panaca, Nevada. With help from my mother, who insisted that doing presentations would ensure a greater talent at public speaking, I was able to use my early experiences and talent to help people understand the science of racing. Little did I know that this would be the first domino in my career.
The week before I was to present a 16-year old student from the school was killed riding on an ATV, so the school requested that I also talk about safety of racing and riding as well. From personal history, I knew the scares of crashing; I had been in a really bad crash as a kid in a kart race. I showed the helmet that I was wearing to the students and spoke about all the safety gear we wear when we race and why. The helmet I wore cracked quite badly due to the impact. Helmet safety became important to me when my dad showed me the helmet and where the crack was. Knowing things could have been worse that day changed my life. I now always close my presentations showing the safety gear drivers must wear while talking to the students about safety.
After my first presentation things really took off, I did presentations at several schools all over the Las Vegas Valley and even presented at the Nevada State Mathematics and Science Conference, which was held at Spring Valley High School.
When I was in high school, I was asked to do a presentation on NASCAR careers. So I put together another program called “Careers in NASCAR”. I had so many requests to present this program that I had to start turning down schools. Because of racing and the presentations I was giving, I missed a lot of school, and felt extremely bad when I had to tell a school “No”.
Four years ago I started working closely with Roundy Elementary School in Las Vegas to give my “Careers in NASCAR” presentation. The school’s theme is the “Roundy Racers” and the staff came up with a reading incentive program tied to the school’s racing theme called Driven to Read. Naturally, the school wanted me as its spokesperson. The program has been a huge success and I love working with the students. Because of the success, and with the staff’s blessing, I decided to take the program nationally to schools located in cities where I raced. The first school I did out of state was Trinity Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona. I followed that up with Rich Acres Elementary School in Martinsville, Virginia. I hope to expand the program and visit a school in every city where I race to encourage students to read.