South Boston Speedway, Halifax County Schools team together in unique program
Students in the Motorsports Academy at Halifax County (Va.) High School can now earn a varsity sports letter.
That announcement came from officials with the Halifax County Public Schools System and South Boston Speedway. The unique opportunity is believed to be the first of its kind offered at the high school level.
"Students in the Motorsports Academy will be able to receive a varsity letter," Halifax County Schools Supt. Paul Stapleton said. "There is a whole list of criteria that they will have to go through for a letter to be awarded, but it is now available."
Stapleton said school officials believed it was an appropriate action to take for the students in the Motorsports Academy.
"I believe it will be a good motivation tool for them," Stapleton, who became Halifax County Schools Superintendent in 2004, said. "We believe what we are doing is developing career pathways for students.
"There are so many careers now available in racing, both on the track and off," Stapleton said. "The success of the Motorsports Academy, with the help of South Boston Speedway and the Mattioli Foundation, has far exceeded what we thought we could accomplish initially."
NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter, who oversees NASCAR's short track racing programs, said the Motorsports Academy will open doors for young people.
It's great that South Boston Speedway and the Halifax County Schools are providing this type of exposure for students to learn about career opportunities in the racing industry, said Hunter.
The Motorsports Academy began in the Halifax County school system in the fall of 2005. This year, the academy hopes to team with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitor Jeff Burton and his sponsor, Cingular, to have even more success.
"Currently, students in grades six through 12, students in middle school and high school, can be involved in the program," Stapleton said. "There is also some introductory things available at the elementary level."
High school students in the Motorsports Academy actually take part in the building, design, and racing of full size race cars, Stapleton noted. This year, the high school students will prepare and work on the racecar of female driver Terri Williams in the NASCAR Limited Sportsman Division at South Boston Speedway.
"Terri will be the driver of our Comet race car," Stapleton said. "The pit crew will be high school students."
Stapleton added that there was also a possibility that high school students will get behind the wheel of racecars at South Boston Speedway this year and in seasons to come.
"Hopefully, we will have a junior or senior in high school that we will be able to give an opportunity to drive in some of the divisions at South Boston," Stapleton said.
For more information about South Boston Speedway's 50th anniversary season, phone the speedway at 434-572-4947 or 1-877-440-1540.