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NASCAR driver Ragan rewards young readers
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Patrick Henry Elementary School Principal Zebedee Talley Jr. (left) gives NASCAR driver David Ragan a school shirt during his visit Thursday, when he handed out “Where’s Waldo” books to students. (Contributed photo)

Friday, October 26, 2012

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Ragan helped Patrick Henry Elementary School students determine “Where’s Waldo” on Thursday.

Ragan visited 76 students at Patrick Henry who all completed the “Read Your Way to the Race” program that many area schools do in conjunction with Martinsville Speedway. More than 2,500 students in the city and Henry County took part in the program.

Students at Patrick Henry read the most books of any city school, and they were rewarded with a visit from Ragan, autographed copies of “Where’s Waldo?” books and free tickets to Sunday’s race.

This weekend, Ragan will be running a “Where’s Waldo?” paint scheme on his Ford in the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway to celebrate the book series’ 25th anniversary.

Patrick Henry Principal Zebedee Talley Jr. introduced Ragan to the excited students on Thursday, offering him a school T-shirt and telling him that he was “an official Panther now.”

Ragan, 26, spoke to the students about the importance of reading to him.

“When I was your age, I was just getting into racing,” he said, explaining that he began racing when he was 10.

However, his parents stressed to him the need to study hard and do his schoolwork. If he wanted to be rewarded with time behind the wheel, “I couldn’t have teachers calling my parents,” he said.

Talley was not surprised by the Patrick Henry students’ reading skills.

“We’re not really shocked that they read the most,” he said. “Our staff is very heavy on reading ... reading is just essential.”

He was grateful for Martinsville Speedway’s support in the contest.

“We appreciate Martinsville Speedway for always participating,” he said. “(Martinsville Speedway President) Mr. Clay Campbell is always an outstanding supporter of education.”

After the presentation and the students returned to class, Ragan spoke briefly about Sunday’s race.

“Martinsville is one of my favorite tracks. The grandstands are always packed here,” he said. “Mentally, it’s a track where you have to be aggressive at times but conservative at times.”

Ragan was asked the question that was on everyone’s minds: where, exactly, is Waldo?

“He’s on the car somewhere,” Ragan said. “You’ve got to find him.”


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