FORT WORTH, Texas – Casual Verizon IndyCar Series fans might not be familiar with drivers’ race weekend schedules, which constitute more than their on-track activity and the formal autograph session at each venue.
For the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 7, a visit to an elementary school, the Dr Pepper facility, a friendly dessert “racing” competition to benefit Speedway Children’s Charities, a visit to a local children's hospital and seeing the gear of the Fort Worth Police SWAT unit were among the activities before the first practice session on the 1.455-mile, high-banked oval.
Four Verizon IndyCar Series drivers helped celebrate the accomplishments of elementary school students who participated in Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding to Read competition.
More than 6,500 students at 11 schools read 1,020,207 books during the program throughout the school year. Roanoke Elementary School near Texas Motor Speedway won the overall title with 97 percent of its 760 students meeting or exceeding its goals.
“This school is full of champions here,” Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan said. “They won this reading contest, this fast reading contest. It’s really cool that Texas Motor Speedway is involved with it. We’re doing some competition and some of these kids I can tell are competitive.”
Kanaan was joined by Ed Carpenter, Carlos Munoz and Sebastien Bourdais for a Victory Lap Celebration at the school that included the drivers acting as team captains for relay races. They also participated in a Q&A session, during which they told students that they began pursuing their dream career during their elementary school years.
As a special victory prize, Texas Motor Speedway presented four tickets to each student to attend the Firestone 600 on June 7.
“This is just part of the race week,” Kanaan said. “But when you’re interacting with kids, it’s always cool. They are so innocent and they have a way of seeing things that is so much different. For me, it’s relaxing. I’ve always enjoyed doing school visits and talking about my career because I remember when I was in school I looked up to the guys who would visit.”
Later in the day, Chip Ganassi Racing drivers participated in the Chefs in the Fast Lane presented by the City of Roanoke, which included a competition to determine who could design a cupcake the quickest, followed by putting together a gift bag and designing a “mystery item” with the chocolate fountain.
Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Briscoe presented six guests with $100 gift cards courtesy of Target and participated in a Q&A session. Proceeds of $22,760 from the event were dedicated to Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas chapter.
Justin Wilson made a visit to Cook Children's Medical Center on behalf of Racing for Kids, which is marking its 25th anniversary. Wilson and Racing For Kids spokesman Robbie Buhl visited with patients as part of the program that has visited 27,500 children in more than 500 hospitals around the world and raised more than $6 million to benefit the facilities.