Harvick promotes Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding to Read Program

Jerry Jordan/Kickin' the Tires

By Jerry Jordan — FORT WORTH – Kevin Harvick may have qualified 22nd for the Duck Commander 500, on Sunday, but he was number one to a bunch of Samuel Beck Elementary School students after making a surprise appearance Thursday morning and awarding fourth-grader, Jenna Johnson, with tickets to the race after she won a contest hosted by Texas Motor Speedway and Lionel Racing to “Design A Die-cast.”

Jenna said she loves her school so when she was designing her car, she put the school’s bulldog mascot on the hood and then added other elements that were important to her.

“I’m just very happy and very excited,” Johnson said. “When I was drawing this design, I just thought about the school and it reminded me of Bulldogs, so I put a bulldog on my car and some cool designs.”

The competition by the official die-cast of NASCAR was held in partnership with Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding to Read program and Johnson produced the winning overall NASCAR car paint scheme among the 11 schools and more than 6,500 students participating in the reading program this year. Northwest ISD earned a sweep of the top honors as Sendera Ranch first-grader Weston Broome had the top design in the Kindergarten-2nd Grade Division of the competition and received his die-cast from Lionel Racing officials during a full-school assembly earlier that morning.

“I have worked in the NASCAR die-cast industry for nearly 20 years, and I can honestly say that the artwork that Jenna and Weston submitted were two of the most exciting car designs I’ve seen,” added Thomas DeBoyace, Director of Ecommerce for Lionel Racing. “In addition to being great readers, these two students are incredibly creative. On behalf of Lionel Racing, I was excited to award them with a die-cast car of their winning designs.”


Jenna Johnson’s award-winning design was brought to life by the folks at Lionel Racing and given to her as a souvenir of her accomolishment. Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin’ the Tires

Harvick presented Jenna with a 1:24 scale diecast, complete with her original paint scheme as her classmates cheered her on. Harvick said it was an honor for him to be involved in the program and made mention that his own son, Keelan, is about their age.

Entering the gym to the sound of about 800 screaming kids and upbeat pop music, Harvick fielded questions from his young audience and then waved the checkered flag for a tricycle race between two of the students. And for those who think a kindergartner can’t rattle a guy used to driving 200-mph they should think again as one young man stumped Harvick by asking about his favorite book.

Harvick stumbled at first but quickly recovered by saying he reads a lot of Dr. Seuss books to his son Keelan.

“I have to admit that I don’t read as much as I should, but I love reading Dr. Seuss books every night with my son, Keelan,” Harvick told the students. “I really like to read those, especially Cat in the Hat, and Keelan does, too.”

The mission of Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program is to utilize motorsports, its drivers and races to incentivize elementary school children to read more frequently and enrich their educational experience and future. Speeding To Read is an incentive-based, motorsports-themed reading program created by Texas Motor Speedway to encourage elementary school students to read more frequently during the school year.

The student bodies are split into two divisions (K-2nd and 3rd-5th) with individuals, classrooms and schools competing against each other to read the most books and earn the title of Speeding to Read champion. Since Speeding To Read began with a one-school pilot program in 2011-12, the program has reached 33 schools and over 18,000 students that have combined to read more than two million books.For more information on the program, visit www.speedingtoread.com.

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