Speed Into Science Sponsored by Gene Haas Foundation & M&T Bank Takes Students Into the Science of Racing at Richmond International Raceway

Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing Headlines STEM Event to Educate Central Virginia Eight Graders in Partnership with RVASTEM

Speed Into Science

Richmond International Raceway hosted 400 eighth grade students from schools in central Virginia for the inaugural STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educational event, Speed Into Science, sponsored by the Gene Haas Foundation and M&T Bank on Thursday, April 27



Richmond International Raceway (Richmond) hosted 400 eighth grade students from schools in central Virginia for the inaugural STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educational event, Speed Into Science, sponsored by the Gene Haas Foundation and M&T Bank on Thursday, April 27. As part of the event, students had the opportunity to learn with Stewart-Haas Racing driver Cole Custer.


“The future of the sport is in good hands with young drivers like Cole Custer, who are willing to commit to share their experience and knowledge with the bright minds of tomorrow,” said Richmond President Dennis Bickmeier. “We believe it is our responsibility as a track to support our community through educational programs like Speed Into Science. With like-minded partners in the Gene Haas Foundation and M&T Bank, this event will have an even greater long-range impact on students in central Virginia.”


Custer, driver of the No. 00 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS), is running full-time this season for the newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing NXS team. Custer is also competing for the Sunoco rookie of the year. In 2016, he made five XFINITY Series starts with JR Motorsports, where he also competed in the Camping World Truck Series. The ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race will be his fourth race at Richmond and his second NXS race at the track. Custer claimed his first top ten finish in the series in 2016’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond. In the Truck Series, he has two career wins and finished tenth in points last season.


“It means a lot to get to teach kids the science of racing because they're the future of our sport,” said driver of the No. 00, Custer. “There is obviously a lot of science that goes into racing that people don't know about and letting kids see that is awesome. It's extremely important for kids to know the science behind racing because that’s what makes racing so interesting. The students get to take what they learned in the classroom and experience in person the hands-on science that goes into racing.”


"The Gene Haas Foundation believes in America's youth,” said Joe Custer, president, Stewart-Haas Racing. “Tomorrow's leaders are in our classrooms today; those students that strive to excel by participating in programs like STEM should be commended and we are thrilled to support them."


"In 1999, Gene Haas founded the Gene Haas Foundation. Growing up with a strong social conscience instilled by his family, Haas initially formed the foundation to fund grants that target needs of the local Ventura community where Haas Automation is located. These grants support the underserved of the community primarily children,” said Kathy Looman, Foundation Administrator at the Gene Haas Foundation. “Over the years, the foundation has grown and expanded embracing the ‘teach a man to fish’ principal. The foundation has granted over 35 million dollars in grants to school programs focusing on scholarships for manufacturing technology students. This STEM field is anticipating two million open jobs over the next 10 years. The foundation has granted a total of over 50 million dollars in grants since its inception in 1999." 


Speed Into Science consists of four turns (i.e. stations), developed alongside local science teachers, focusing on force and motion, chemistry, sound, and thermal energy and friction. The first turn uses distracted driver and airbag simulators, and crash barrier experiments to teach force and motion. The second turn uses hands-on chemistry experiments that let the kids see chemistry happening before their eyes. In turn three, pace car experiments with Doppler speakers, police radar and race engine power demos teach students about sound. The final turn uses infrared video imaging, tire heat and measurements, for students to learn about thermal energy and friction. The curriculum for the event was developed in partnership with RVAStem and a group of amazing volunteer teachers.


“M&T Bank is honored to partner with Richmond International Raceway and the Speed Into Science program,” said Cecilia Hodges, President of M&T Bank's Central and Southern Virginia Region. “In addition to this program, our existing partnerships with the Flying Squirrels, Richmond Children’s Museum and Central Virginia Children’s Book Bank, support programs that promote education, literacy and foster vibrant communities. M&T Bank understands that the vitality of the communities we serve is crucial to our continued success, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to support quality education.”


In addition to science turns, each registered classroom received four videos to show in the weeks leading up to Speed Into Science. The videos featured special guests, including Cole Custer, talking about each of the four turns students experienced at the event.


NASCAR racing returns to the Capital of the Commonwealth on April 28, 29 and 30. The action starts with Practice and Qualifying Day on Friday, April 28, followed by the ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash4Cash race on Saturday, April 29 at 1 p.m. Kids 12 and younger are free in general admission seating areas for all NASCAR XFINITY Series races. Richmond’s spring weekend concludes with the fan-friendly Track Takeover driven by AAA from 10 a.m. to noon followed by NASCAR’s best in the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 30.


Richmond’s fall race weekend, presented by Who’s Your Driver, will crown the inaugural Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season champion over Fan Appreciation Weekend on September 8-9. Witness history in the Federated Auto Parts 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Saturday, September 9 as a regular season champion will be crowned. On Friday, September 8, the rising stars of tomorrow will compete in the Virginia529 College Savings 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race.


Tickets are on sale now. Visit rir.com or call 866-455-7223 to purchase.

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