BIDWELL — River Valley Middle School celebrated Right to Read Week with a special guest speaker, current NASCAR Cup driver Gray Gaulding.
“I was honored to be asked to come here and do this, I think it’s a really cool thing. I love reaching out to young kids, it feels like yesterday I was sitting there and I had athletes and people like that come talk to us,” said Gaulding. “I think it’s always good to give back. Those kids I’m talking to and trying to inspire and give them drive to be a better human being and work for what they want to do in life, that’s the future of our world so I try to be the best I can be as far as reaching out and making that one person or young kid have drive to be what they want to be some day.”
Gaulding is currently the youngest driver in NASCAR’s highest level on competition at 20 years old. Gaulding grew up in a family of racers, being a third generation driver. In talking with students Gaulding told them how reading and education has played an important role in his success as a race car driver.
“You need to work hard, I tell a lot of people I talk to, don’t be afraid to follow your dreams and do what you love. I’m very fortunate to say that I do that every week, I’m 20 years old racing at the highest level in NASCAR and that was always my dream as a kid,” said Gaulding.
Despite growing up racing everything from dirt bikes to bandolero cars as young as three years old, his parents impressed upon him the importance of reading and education.
“As a kid your favorite thing isn’t education. I always thought I needed to put an education first even though I won’t love or like it, it’s always good to be able to learn as much as possible coming through school,” said Gaulding. “My parents always pushed me to keep my grades up so I could go out and race every weekend. I’m here to let you guys know that school is very important, treat your teachers with respect, read as much as you can, try and get as much knowledge as you can in your early life, and you need to work hard.”
In his NASCAR career Gaulding uses reading skills each week in preparation at each track. He explained to the students how his education helps him better prepare for each race in knowing how the equipment will react in certain conditions and how it has reacted in the past at that given track.
“Reading is very important, it’s not my favorite thing to do but I try to read a lot of each race track I go to, going to the next race and reading articles about what the tires did last time I was at the race track and little things like that,” said Gaulding.
Gaulding left the students with an encouragement for the students, to stick together and work hard despite differences.
“You guys are one big family here at the school, it’s sort of like NASCAR. Even though we race against each other every single week we lean on each other and we’re all very close as competitors and as family,” said Gaulding. “It’s important for you guys to push each other and don’t be afraid to help your classmate out.”
Gaulding spent time answering questions from students and signed several items for students.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.