Daytona Beach, Fla. - NASCAR legend Rusty Walace and Bank of America teamed up on Friday, hosting 100 middle school students from Volusia Co. in the STEM 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are the core disciplines of modern NASCAR Racing. Bank of America East Central Florida Marketing President Sam Willet activated his partnership with the NASCAR Foundation, exposing students from five Vollusia middle schools on an interactive trek that in theory, will motivate each student to gain an increased interest and awareness in the math and science fields.
Details can be found after the jump!
Wallace, the 1989 Sprint Cup Series Champion, hosted the event today at Daytona International as part of the annual NASCAR Day and was visibly excited at playing the role of teacher and giving students the oppurtunities that many do not.
"This has been a lot of fun," Wallace said. "We had 100 kids come out and compete. We separated the kids into 20 groups of five and we gave them questions that were all math related. Those that answered first, moved ahead of everyone. We had a board shaped like Daytona where their team's car kept track of their progress."
"I really wish I could have worked harder at math and science when I was younger, and I'm hoping that what we're doing here today will move the next generation of fans in that direction.
"Math and science is so critical to each of the big budget teams like Hendrick, Gibbs and Penske," Wallace said. "Being able to process the numbers faster than anyone else is often the difference between going out of business and winning championships. With so many simulations and tests taking place in shops everyday, we really felt that this was a special oppurtunity to allow kids to see how important math is to what we do.
"Look at it this way also, the kids here are going to be the talk of the town when they get home and they're going to take a lot of these applications with them," Wallace continued. "These kids are going to be excited about math and NASCAR too."
The STEM 500 is an important front for building the next generation of NASCAR fans. Any oppurtunity that a middle-schooler gets to meet a Rusty Wallace will have a lasting impression. The kids are likely coming home and asking their parents where they can find more Rusty Wallace.
According to Willet, that was the plan all along.
"Getting Rusty to be a part of the program presented a very special oppurtunity," Willet said. "NASCAR allows us to reach millions of viewers each week, but now we want to give back to the community and education is our chief focus, especially in math and science."
Many of the students chosen were already NASCAR fans and the STEM 500 only increased their excitement. The event's sponsors hope that many of these kids will take their intrest to the next level and express a career in NASCAR using the skills they learned today.
"Hopefully some of them can work for Bank of America, too." Willet quipped.
About NASCAR Day
NASCAR Day is an annual charitable celebration of the NASCAR spirit that enables fans and corporate partners to join together to make a difference in the lives of children. The Daytona Beach project is one of five keystone events taking place today aimed at helping children live happier, healthier lives. The “Big Five” projects include: partnering with Bank of America for a racing-themed educational initiative at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.; renovation and race theme decoration of a portion of the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service in Atlanta, Ga.; working with Sprint, Inc. for a playground build at the Kansas City Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City, Mo.; A Place for Hope project outside Charlotte, N.C. and a fundraiser at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. to support Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.
For more information please visit the website at WWW.NASCAR.COM/NASCARDay.