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Local kids get NASCAR thrill at Tate Day Camp
Busch Series drivers Compton, Wood come to West Knox County for child interaction

The roar of motors was only drowned out by the pure shrill of excitement shown by the children at the Tate School of Discovery Day Camp Tuesday, July 12.

NASCAR Busch Series drivers Stacy Compton and Jon Wood from the ST Motorsports team visited the day camp to teach the kids about safety and hopefully gain a few more young race fans as well.

“It’s fun, when you do it with sponsors and adults it’s a lot of fun but when you come out and do it with kids they are loving to be here,” Compton said. “They are happy to be here, they are enthusiastic they are excited about getting in a race car. It’s fun to listen when they go back and tell their friends that they went a 120 mph, so they are excited and genuinely interested in what’s going on.”

As part of the morning visit, the drivers allowed the campers (ages 9 to 15) to ride with them in their racecars on a custom track set up at the day camp. While they weren’t going 120 mph realistically, the kids felt like they were and to the drivers that’s all that matters.

Brynn Pierce, a 9-year-old student at Christian Academy of Knoxville, said Compton “was really cool. We talked about Herby [a current release “love bug” car movie] as we went around the loop.”

Melissa Brooks and Jon Chaires, 9-year-old Farragut Intermediate School students, gave the experience high marks.

“It was awesome,” Melissa said. “We went really fast.”

Jon added, “This was fun. I watch NASCAR a lot and it was much smoother than it looks on TV.”

Wood said, “Being in the business that we are in you never really get a chance to give back to the community. We get so busy with our week to week schedule that we kind of get away from stuff like this and it’s just a lot of fun to see all these kids smiling.”

Early in the morning, the drivers participated in a question and answer session with the children and Compton was pleased by the interest the campers showed.

“We did a Q and A this morning and usually you do one with your sponsors and it will last five to ten minutes; we could have gone on with the Q and A for an hour this morning,” he said. “They were asking some really good questions and wanting to know so it’s a pleasure for me to come out and work with them and see the excitement on the kids’ faces.”

Compton started his Busch series career in 2001 and has participated in 69 races, all with ST Motor-sports. He has had three second-place finishes in his Busch Series career.

Wood, 23, is racing in his first full year in the Busch series. Being the grandson of Glen Wood, he was born into the racing industry.

Wood enjoyed some successes in the Craftsman Truck Series, earning 10 top ten finishes in 22 races in 2002 and earned two victories in 2003. This year Wood has three top ten finishes in the Busch Series.

“We have had some really good finishes, we have had a couple top five finishes,” Wood said. “This is my first whole season in the Busch series so a lot can be forgiven, it’s a learning year and we just take it one race at a time.”

Compton feels that after a slow start to the season, things are starting to turn around for the team at the right time of the year.

“We really had a rough start, we couldn’t buy any good luck,” Compton said. “We said early on that if we could make it to the middle of the year we felt like things could work together with the two drivers and about six races ago, I feel that our team really turned around, we gained close to ten sponsor points and we’re really heading in the right direction so I feel like the first half of the year was terrible, the middle part we turned it around I am really looking forward to the last half.”

As for goals, Compton said that contending for a championship is always at the top of the priority list, but with the slow start a more realistic goal is to finish in the top 10 this year.

“We are making some serious ground up on those guys in the top ten,” Compton said. “We want to get in the top ten and we would love to get in the top five but we need to get out and win races and get as much exposure for (our sponsors) as we can. We don’t ever want to be out of the top ten in points at the end of the season and right now we aren’t there so we have a little work to do but right now we are heading in the right direction.”

Aside from the team goals, Wood has a few personal plans of his own.

“The plan right now is for me to finish this year out in the car that I am driving now and next year I may be driving it as well as another Nextel Cup car so if that’s the case it will be a really busy schedule but I am just trying to get all the seat time that I can,” he said.

As for the effect that this visit had on the campers, Compton hopes that they set a positive example during their visit.

“Everybody was excited about it, I think, before we came,” he said. “They may have still been excited but after we leave I heard a bunch of kids say that they were going to watch for the fifty-nine car this weekend on TV so I think that we certainly created some more fans and once again they all seem to be really excited about being here and like I said its fun and it’s a great day camp.

“The Tates do such a good job with this camp that it’s fun to come out here and do something like this.”


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