Cup Champion Harvick Surprises Samuel Beck Elementary

Fourth-grader Jenna Johnson and her classmates at Samuel Beck Elementary School thought they were headed to a full-school assembly Thursday to get motivated for the final turn of Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program.
Instead, Johnson and the nearly 800 kindergarten through fifth graders at Trophy Club school received the surprise of their young lifetimes. Kevin Harvick , the 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion, made a surprise visit to Samuel Beck Elementary to present Johnson with her rewards for being selected as the overall winner of the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” competition.
The competition by the official die-cast of NASCAR was held in partnership with Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program and Johnson produced the winning overall NASCAR car paint scheme among the 11 schools and more than 6,500 students participating in the reading program this year. Northwest ISD earned a sweep of the top honors as Sendera Ranch first-grader Weston Broome had the top design in the Kindergarten-2nd Grade Division of the competition and received his die-cast from Lionel Racing officials during a full-school assembly earlier that morning.
Johnson’s design incorporated the reading theme as well as the mascot of Samuel Beck, the bulldog. Her black car featured a bulldog on a blue hood; books on the door sides and reading glasses on the roof; and yellow, orange and red flames on the back of each wheel well of the Chevrolet SS design template that was provided to each student.
I’m just very happy and very excited,” Johnson said. “When I was drawing this design, I just thought about the school and it reminded me of Bulldogs, so I put a bulldog on my car and some cool designs.”
“I have worked in the NASCAR die-cast industry for nearly 20 years, and I can honestly say that the artwork that Jenna and Weston submitted were two of the most exciting car designs I’ve seen,” added Thomas DeBoyace, Director of E-commerce for Lionel Racing. “In addition to being great readers, these two students are incredibly creative. On behalf of Lionel Racing, I was excited to award them with a die-cast car of their winning designs.”
Harvick presented Johnson with a 1:24-scale die-cast produced by Lionel Racing that replicated her winning design. Other gifts he presented to her were an autographed 1:24-scale die-cast of his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet and four tickets to Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway to watch him compete in person.
“That was a really cool deal and a lot of fun,” Harvick said. “This is a great program that Texas Motor Speedway has and you can see the kids are really excited about Speeding To Read. I can tell you that 800 screaming kids can make your ears hurt.”
He also took part in a Q&A session with the students and handled the checkered flag duties for the big-wheel race between the top two readers in the school. The questions focused primarily on racing, but he also was asked about his favorite books to read.
“I have to admit that I don’t read as much as I should, but I love reading Dr. Seuss books every night with my son, Keelan,” Harvick told the students. “I really like to read those, especially Cat in the Hat, and Keelan does, too.”
The elementary schools that are competing in Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program this school year in addition to Samuel Beck and Sendera Ranch are Nathan Adams (Dallas ISD), Carroll Peak (Fort Worth), Old Settlers (Lewisville), O.A. Peterson (Northwest), Rockbrook (Lewisville), E.P. Rayzor (Denton), Riverside Applied Learning Center (Fort Worth), Northbrook (Eagle Mountain-Saginaw) and J.A. Hargrave (Crowley). The K-2 and 3-5 students that were selected as finalists in the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” competition from their respective schools received a pair of tickets to Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 XFINITY Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
“We truly value our partnership with Texas Motor Speedway, and we jumped at any chance to participate in the Speeding to Read program,” Samuel Beck Elementary Principal Sandy Conklin said. “This program goes such a long way in motivating our kids, and bringing in an athlete like Kevin Harvick gives someone for our kids to relate to. This program truly captivates our kids and has really encouraged them to read even more.
“In terms of the design contest, I really turned it over to our incredible Fine Arts department and teachers and let them run with it. We have an incredible group of teachers, and we are so proud that one of our students won this award.”
Lionel Racing is among 11 Texas Motor Speedway Speeding To Read partners that consists of NASCAR, Verizon IndyCar Series, Score-A-Goal in the Classroom, aai Trophies & Awards, Domino’s, Woolley’s Frozen Custard, Kid’s Beach Club, Speedway Children’s Charities – TMS Chapter, The Speedway Club and SMI Properties.