Race shop hosts event to promote science, technology, engineering, math CORNELIUS, N.C. -- The questions weren't surprising and ranged from "how much do you make" to "how did you get interested in racing ." Nothing too bizarre to start off, and with just enough feedback to keep the trip interesting and the attendees attentive. Last month, Michael Waltrip Racing and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brian Vickers hosted approximately 30 teenagers from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte (Mecklenburg and Union Counties). It was one of four events the organization took part in this year to help demonstrate the importance of STEM, an academic curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and math. According to the U.S. Department of Education ( www.ed.gov/stem ), "only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career. Even among those who do go on to pursue a college major in the STEM fields, only about half choose to work in a related career. The United States is falling behind internationally, ranking 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations." Following the screening of a short video and the open discussion, the teens, ranging in age from 13 to 18, toured the expansive facility where MWR personnel explained the engineering and safety aspects of today's Sprint Cup Series cars in a more hands-on setting. Vickers, a three-time winner in Sprint Cup and a former NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, said he has tried to tailor his approach to the interest of each individual group. "I wouldn't say it's changed it dramatically but certainly there are some things you learn as you go through the process," he said. "It's interesting. Every group is different, some are totally engaged, absolutely thought it was the coolest thing ever, especially the younger kids. The older groups, when you're in high school ... they want to pretend like they're not impressed even though they are. They're just that age where all their peers' opinions really matter so you have to really pull it out of them. "One mistake I made early on was just hammering science, technology, engineering and math. Because that's what it's about, right? I think it should be an integral part of it but the reality is you're not going to get 100 kids in one room and they all want to be engineers." The bigger picture, he said, was the opportunity to promote the value of getting an education. And that was the message he tried to impress upon the teens. "Something I have learned is that everyone here is intrigued by different things. Maybe it doesn't involve STEM, but maybe it does," he said. "What I would say to you is you should take your education seriously, but do something you love. Maybe it is working on race cars or building rockets or building skyscrapers, whatever. Maybe it's writing a play, or maybe it's being the next great artist. I don't know. "I'm not going to stand here and tell you that you need to be an engineer if that's not something that intrigues you. But I will tell you that your education is one of the most valuable assets you're going to have in your life." He doesn't undersell the importance of the STEM program, however. Integrating it with the Boys and Girls Clubs has been a success from the standpoint of providing youngsters with hands-on learning opportunities. In addition to the tour of the race shop, the teens were also the guests of the team at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "It works for us," Vickers said of the program. "Because that's what racing is about. It's engineering-based. One of the last ones we did was in Atlanta, and we got just some amazing responses. "Those kids were so engaged. They had these dreams, and yeah, some of them, a big group of them in fact, wanted to be engineers. We had two or three that really wanted to work on race teams. And one young boy wanted to be an architect, a couple wanted to be musicians. ... And that's great. "But to only talk about (engineering), I think, it doesn't go as well. So I've kind of opened it up a little bit more; still focus on that but talk to them about what do they want to do, what are they interested in?" So just how much does he earn? "I always get that question," he said, laughing. "I do pretty well."
Annual Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship event recognized Darrell and Michael Waltrip have been selected by the National Motorsports Press Association as the organization's Spirit Award recipient for the fourth quarter of 2014. The brothers were recognized for their annual Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship event, which raised $450,000 through an auction, dinner and golf tournament. The proceeds from the fifth annual event benefit several organizations including Motor Racing Outreach (a non-profit organization that ministers to the needs of families of those involved in NASCAR ), Feed the Children (a U.S.-based anti-hunger organization) and Tucker's House (an organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for children with disabilities that require modifications at home for safety, accessibility and therapy). Darrell Waltrip was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, won three premier series titles and 84 premier series races in his storied career. Michael Waltrip is a four-time winner in the sport's premier series with two victories in the Daytona 500 and is also the co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing , which fields two full-time cars in the Sprint Cup Series . Also receiving votes for the second quarter award were the Kyle Busch Foundation and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Joey Coulter . Lynda Petty, the late wife of seven-time premier series champion Richard Petty, Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr . and longtime car owner Junie Donlavey, who passed away in June, have also won the quarterly award this year. An overall winner of the 2014 NMPA Spirit Award will be determined by the members of the NMPA and announced on January 25, 2015 at the association's annual convention in Concord, North Carolina. The NMPA Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the race of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
The history and full crews of Michael Waltrip Racing
Michael Waltrip Racing driver had surgery to repair a hole in his heart Brian Vickers will sit out the early portions of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season because of health issues, his Michael Waltrip Racing team announced Monday afternoon. In a statement released by the team, Vickers said he had surgery Saturday to repair a patch covering a hole in his heart. Complications from blood clots have sidelined the 31-year-old driver twice in his career -- for most of the 2010 season and for the latter stages of his part-time schedule in 2013. "First, I want to thank everyone for their sincere support," Vickers said in a statement. "I have faced obstacles before and it has made victory that much sweeter and I know that will be the case again. "My previous experiences have given me a very keen understanding of my body. Late last week, I knew something wasn't right, so I went to the hospital to be checked out. Following several tests, it was discovered that my body was rejecting an artificial patch that was inserted in 2010 to fix a hole in my heart. Saturday, I had to have corrective surgery to repair the hole and now I am beginning the recovery process. I will need plenty of time, rest and rehab but this temporary setback will not stop me from pursuing my dream of becoming a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion." Michael Waltrip Racing did not mention a specific length of time that Vickers would be out of the cockpit. The team release also didn't specify a potential substitute driver for the No. 55 Toyota. "Brian has been a part of the MWR family since 2012 and our thoughts today are with Brian, his wife Sarah and the Vickers family," said Rob Kauffman, the team's co-owner with Michael Waltrip . "As a race team, MWR has plenty to consider and we will confer with our partners, including Aaron’s and Toyota. As this is fresh news, we will adjust our future plans as more information becomes available." Vickers made his first start in NASCAR's premier series in 2003, the year he won the championship in what will become the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015. Vickers has three victories in NASCAR's top division, his most recent coming with Waltrip's team at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July 2013. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Michael Waltrip takes a stroll down pit road to talk with drivers and celebrities.
Michael Waltrip talks about racing at Talladega and why he loves the racetrack and the fans.
Alan Cavanna reports on the latest information concerning NAPA and the future of Martin Truex Jr. at Michael Waltrip Racing .
NASCAR.com's Lesley Robins talks to Michael Waltrip about ABC's Dancing With The Stars, racing , crying, and his newly developed abs.
Crew chiefs for all three teams revealed JR Motorsports announced a slew of moves Wednesday, tabbing new crew chiefs for each of its 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series entries. The organization added Dave Elenz and Jason Burdett to the mix, with the pair joining veteran Ernie Cope, who will take over the No. 9 duties and team with reigning champion Chase Elliott . The title-winning Chevrolet was previously helmed by Greg Ives, who will move on to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2015 to team with Dale Earnhardt Jr . on the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team. Elenz will serve as crew chief for Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne on the multi-driver No. 88 JRM team (formerly the No. 5/88 team). Burdett will serve as Regan Smith 's crew chief on the No. 7 Taxslayer.com team, allowing Ryan Pemberton to return to his original post as the company's director of competition. Both Elenz and Burdett come to JR Motorsports by way of Hendrick Motorsports. "This group gives us an exciting mix of proven experience, future potential, and new opportunities for everyone involved," Earnhardt Jr., owner of JR Motorsports, said in a team statement. "Ernie is one of the best crew chiefs in the business, and yet he's rarely had the opportunity to compete for a championship. Now he gets that chance with Chase Elliott ." The upcoming season will be Cope's 13th as a crew chief, but despite his 14 career victories, this will mark only the second time Cope has been paired with a full-time driver to compete for a championship. Previously an engineer on both the No. 88 and No. 48 teams at Hendrick Motorsports, Elenz is a native of Gaylord, Michigan, and graduate of Clemson University. He joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2012 as engineer on Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 team after stints at Jasper Racing (2001-02), Ginn Racing (2003-07) and Red Bull Racing (2009-11). Elenz spent one year on the No. 88 team before becoming an engineer on Jimmie Johnson 's championship-winning team in 2013. "I'm really excited to have the opportunity to work with JR Motorsports," Elenz said. "They've had a lot of success in recent years. I look forward to learning from those successes. To be able to work with the talented drivers we have in the 88 car next year is pretty unbelievable. I know we'll be competing for wins each and every week with those drivers." Burdett is a native of Arkport, New York. His 17-year NASCAR career includes eight seasons as a car chief at Hendrick Motorsports for Johnson (2002), Jeff Gordon (2008-10) and Earnhardt Jr. (2011-14). He also was on Dale Jarrett's teams at Robert Yates Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing , the latter in which he served as Jarrett's crew chief for a bulk of the 2007 season. Burdett played an integral role in Earnhardt Jr.'s four-win 2014 season, in which the team earned a Daytona 500 victory, a Pocono sweep, and a long-awaited Martinsville win. "There is a lot of excitement surrounding JR Motorsports right now and I'm thankful to be part of it," Burdett said. "I'm grateful to Kelley (Earnhardt Miller), Dale Jr. and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports who I've learned from over the years. Being able to take this next step with JR Motorsports is a privilege. I’m looking forward to working with Regan and the entire group next year." All three JRM teams will compete in the full 33-race XFINITY Series schedule in 2015. Elliott and Smith will vie for the driver's championship, while the No. 88 team will compete for the owners' championship with multiple drivers. A full schedule of drivers for the No. 88 team is still being finalized. "Bringing in Dave Elenz and Jason Burdett gives us the opportunity to call up some of the best talent at Hendrick Motorsports and give them a shot at taking the next step in their careers," Earnhardt said. "That is the sort of foundation on which we built this company, and I'm excited to continue that with two individuals who I feel will have successful careers as crew chiefs in this sport." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
MWR hoping to rebound, re-establish credibility in crucial 2014