Drivers talk with kids about science and math in racing at Avoca Elementary
A pair of successful race car drivers - NHRA Drag Racing's Alex Laughlin and Josh Reeves from the world of stock car racing - met with students at Avoca Elementary School Tuesday afternoon to talk about the importance of math, science and learning and how it applies to the world of motorsports.
Laughlin, driver of the Fitzgerald USA Chevy Camaro in the Pro Stock category of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, will try to defend his victory from a year ago in the Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Father's Day weekend, June 15-17 at Bristol Dragway.
Reeves, who drives the Lopez Wealth Management Ford Pro Late Model, is entered in the Short Track U.S. Nationals, coming to Bristol Motor Speedway in two weeks, May 18-20.
The message the two drivers gave to the assembled students was clear: stay in school and always continue to seek ways to learn new things.
Reeves, who grew up near Martinsville, Virginia, said he has always wanted to drive a race car and got started when he was 13. Today in addition to driving, he serves as a crew member for a NASCAR Truck Series team.
"My favorite subject when I was in school was math," Reeves told the students, to which he received a loud ovation. "Math affects every piece of this race car, from the nose back to the rear spoiler. There's a reason that every section on this car is engineered the way it is and math plays a huge role in that."
Laughlin, from west Texas, also knew from an early age he wanted to be in racing. After a short stint in go-karts, Laughlin eventually gravitated towards drag racing. Last year at Bristol he claimed his second career NHRA Pro Stock victory and first ever at historic Thunder Valley.
"I really enjoyed art when I was a student," Laughlin said. "When you look at these race cars, someone had to be creative and come up with the concepts for putting together the paint jobs. That's what always intrigued me, being creative from an artistic standpoint."
The pair amazed the students by demonstrating the effects of air flow around two pieces of paper. They utilized the help of several student volunteers to drop two flat pieces of paper at the same time from the same distance to show that they fall at the same rate. However, they then wadded one piece into a ball and although it has the same total weight, they showed how it fell at a quicker rate due to less wind resistance.
The students asked several questions, including just how fast are the race cars they drive.
"My car has a top speed of 215 mph," said Laughlin, who noted that it will cover the quarter-mile race distance in 6.5 seconds.
Said Reeves: "The speed on my car varies depending on the size of the racetrack, but I can tell you that it is really fast at Bristol."
To obtain tickets for the Short Track U.S. Nationals and the Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, please contact the Bristol Motor Speedway ticket sales center at (866) 415-4158. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.bristoltix.com.