NASCAR’S BUBBA WALLACE SURPRISES LIONEL RACING ‘DESIGN A DIE-CAST’ WINNER AT B.B. OWEN ELEMENTARY
- Fourth-Grader Xavier Gooden’s Winning Design Dedicated To His Two Grandmothers With Colon Cancer
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 6, 2017) – The following is an event recap from Thursday’s visit by NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Bubba Wallace to B.B. Owen Elementary School for a special presentation to the winner of Lionel Racing’s “Design A Die-Cast” competition.
Before a rousing crowd of nearly 500 elementary school students at B.B. Owen in The Colony, Wallace made a visit to surprise fourth-grader Xavier Gooden with a Lionel Racing 1:24 scale die-cast bearing his winning design.
The school welcomed Wallace in grand fashion with a police escort; The Colony High School drum line, cheerleaders and Top Cats performing at the entrance; welcome signs; and a balloon-shaped Victory Lane on the school stage for his special appearance on behalf of Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program.
After the school’s top readers were acknowledged, Gooden was announced as the overall winner of the competition among the 5,000 students and 10 DFW schools competing in Speeding To Read this school year.
Gooden’s design, which was pink, blue and green, was themed “Cure Cancer 2017” and had blue ribbons for colon cancer awareness. The paint scheme was dedicated to his two grandmothers with colon cancer, one of which he lost recently and the other – Clara Simmons – that was on hand for the presentation with several family members.
The students presented Wallace, the driver of the No. 6 Leidos Ford Mustang, with a “good luck” banner for Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Texas Motor Speedway as well as a B.B. Owen Elementary t-shirt as the honored guest.
He also participated with students in a NASCAR quiz game; signed autographs and took photos with numerous students; toured the school including the hallway of die-cast designs; and finished with a photo in the “selfie” No. 6 car the students created for him and then signed the classroom door that featured his car number and sponsor.
The assembly became emotional when Gooden explained to the audience that his paint scheme was a tribute to his two grandmothers, one who recently passed away and the other who was on hand for the presentation along with his parents and several other family members. She came on stage in tears to give her grandson a big embrace for his tribute. Wallace also teared up from the tribute, thinking of his Granny Jan who passed away this past fall in Knoxville, Tenn., and provided a warm embrace to Gooden’s grandmother when she came on stage.
“I just don’t know what to say. I am just speechless.” – Xavier Gooden on stage after he was presented his paint scheme on a 1:24 scale Lionel Racing NASCAR Authentics die-cast.
“It (paint scheme) was for my grandmas because they both had colon cancer, but one sadly didn’t survive. But the grandma on my dad’s side, she is still around. It was really cool to have my grandma here. I didn’t know everyone (from my family) was going to come and they did.” – Gooden on his paint scheme that was a tribute to his two grandmothers.
“That was special – touching. It’s still something that is really sensitive to me. I didn’t expect the waterworks to come out, but it definitely happened.” – Bubba Wallace on losing his Granny Jan in November and getting tearful when hearing of Gooden’s paint scheme tribute.
“That was huge. We kind of played a little joke on them with our travel disaster we had today. We were able to make it here a little bit late, but brought the kids a face they wanted to see. It was a good time. A lot of cheers, screams. Not even a couple boos like I get at the track; it was all positive and that was a lot of fun walking out and getting to spend some time with the kids at B.B. Owen.” – Wallace on the rousing reception of nearly 500 students, parents and special guests at the full-school assembly.
“It was cool having Xavier’s family here. He is such a bright, young kid. He’s got a lot going for him. He’s exciting, he loves living life to the fullest each and every day. You can see that on his face. He is taking it all in. He understands everything that is going on around him. Keeping his family close. That’s something I strive for the same thing.” – Wallace on Gooden after meeting him and his family at the assembly.
“This is our third year doing this and it’s been really great. It is something that Lionel Racing looks forward to every year. This is the first year we’ve ever put a car in our NASCAR Authentics line. Just to watch the kids get so excited about reading – it’s something really cool that Texas Motor Speedway does – it is something I would hope other tracks would eventually take on and do as well.” – Lionel Racing Director of e-Commerce and Marketing Thomas Deboyace.
“Just being here you get the goosebumps and you see the emotions – even with Bubba just losing a family member as well. All the cars were great but this one specifically being a child that was attached to cancer and had been affected by it – it was really good how he did it on the car in honor of his family member. It was phenomenal. It was like a no-brainer to pick this one as our winner for the year.” -Deboyace on the winning design and presentation of the die-cast to Gooden.
“It is truly special to see the impact that Lionel Racing, Bubba and Texas Motor Speedway can make with our elementary school visits to acknowledge the die-cast winners and the top readers,” Texas Motor Speedway Vice President of Media Relations Mike Zizzo. “Having our industry inspire kids to read more frequently, find their artistic talents and dream big is an honor for all of us involved.”
Another significant reward of winning the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-Cast” competition is that Gooden’s design will be included in Lionel Racing’s commercial NASCAR Authentics die-cast line featuring all the cars of the sport’s stars that is expected out in December. Gooden’s car will be available in major retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Toys ‘R Us and Target. Proceeds from his car sales will be donated by Lionel Racing and the NASCAR Foundation to a designated charity in Gooden’s name. “First time ever they are going to be at Walmart, Target, Toys ‘R Us and our NASCAR Authentics line,” Deboyace said. “Our NASCAR enthusiasts will collect these cars and actually get them and put them as part of their collection now with a great story behind it, with money going to charity. Knowing that a kid that is so passionate about reading and getting things done and designing his own car, it was just really cool.”
- Lionel Racing and Texas Motor Speedway also visited E.P. Rayzor Elementary in Lantana to recognize the kindergarten-2nd grade division winner of the “Design A Die-Cast” competition before an outdoor assembly of more than 400 students. Second-grader Alysson Delloro had a winning design that featured a green paint scheme, flames on the hood, a pink roof, wolf footprints for their school mascot, and “Read,” “Speed” and “Race” on the car. It was a big day for Delloro, who also was recognized as the top KG-2nd individual reader for Turn 3 of Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program. Delloro and her family also earned tickets courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway for Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race and Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. … Brendan Droppo, who creates paints schemes for the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, also was a featured guest. He shared his story at both schools of being their age, dreaming of someday creating car paint schemes in NASCAR and that dream becoming a reality. … Compliments of Texas Motor Speedway, Gooden and his family will attend Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR XFINITY race to see Wallace in action and return on Sunday for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. “I’m really, really excited to see Bubba Wallace race,” said Gooden, who will visit with Wallace at his hauler on Saturday morning prior to qualifying. … B.B. Owen Elementary is a Title 1 school that is part of the Lewisville ISD. The school is in its first year competing in Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program and is currently tied with two-time defending champ E.P. Rayzor Elementary of the Denton ISD for the championship lead. The program has been extremely beneficial in incentivizing the students to read more frequently and improving their literacy skills.