Jimmie Johnson Surprises Darlington County Students at Darlington Racewayby Hunter Thomas September 1, 2017
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Darlington County students, who finished best in their grades during a summer reading program competition, got a surprise visit by seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson at Darlington Raceway on Friday.
The driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet visited the K-8 students in Bojangles’ suite that’s located in Turn 3 at the track Too Tough To Tame. Johnson discussed racing at Darlington and how he became one of NASCAR’s top drivers.
“We’re happy and honored to be part of the local community here and rewarding the kids for their efforts in reading so many books. Our sport does a fantastic job of giving back to the communities that we race in and surround the tracks where we compete,” Johnson said. “I’m proud of Darlington Raceway in what they’ve done here and 27 smiling kids here who I got to pass out awards to.”
During the event, the kids had an opportunity to participate in a Q&A with Johnson. Questions included: Why is Dale Earnhardt Jr. retiring? How do you get your cars? How do you get to the track? How old do you have to be to race on a racetrack? How much horsepower does your car have? One little girl even told Johnson that she loved his races. Of course, Johnson had an answer for every question that was asked.
The group of nearly 30 kids that were at the track on Friday were the top-three readers in each grade that participated in the summer reading program, which is sponsored annually by Darlington Raceway, Darlington County School District (DCSD) and Darlington County Library System. Nearly 800 students participated overall, a 10-percent increase over last year’s program. Students read a book and then visited their local Darlington County library to take an Accelerated Reader test that graded them on their efforts.
“We are absolutely delighted with this program.,” said DCSD Public Information Officer Audrey Childers. “The raceway has been a phenomenal partner. Jimmie Johnson to come in is such an amazing experience for our young people, and it really gives them that extra boost when it comes to reading. It shows them that we all value reading and education. Bojangles’ has been a fantastic partner. They’ve made this suite available to us, and they’ve done so much for our students. Overall, this program is a fantastic way for our students to be rewarded for reading which is always a crucial, crucial skill for our kids.”
Bojangles’ is not only the entitlement partner for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 but also works very hard to promote education in the state of South Carolina. Friday’s event at Darlington Raceway is just one way that they give back to the community. While the DCSD students were in the restaurant’s suite, they served plenty of food. Florence-based ScienceSouth also put on a presentation and then gave the students craft supplies to build toy race cars.
“It’s great, especially that Jimmie Johnson took his time to come up here,” said Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits CEO Clifton Rutledge. “Bojangles’, you know we do the Teacher of the Year here in South Carolina, but to have the true kids to come up and for us to be able to entertain them and them get to see the cars practice is good for them. We’re just blessed to be a part of that.”
The Bojangles’ Southern 500 is set to broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) on Sunday, September 3 at 6 p.m. ET.