A Day in the Fast Lane
Racing mini-camps attract local kids
(pictured above: Campers surround the race car simulator that was provided by JKS motorsports.)
Adrian Taylor likes race cars and everything associated with them.
That is why the 7-year-old was so excited to attend a camp sponsored by Winston-Salem State University’s Motorsports Management Program.
As part of its Diversity in Motion Initiative, which aims to pique minorities’ interest in the auto-racing industry, Motorsports Management held two one-day camps. Adrian attended the one on July 16 at the Sprague Street Community Center. The next day, the W.R. Anderson Jr. Community Center on Reynolds Park Road played host.
Adrian gave the experience a big thumbs-up, even though the event did not include monster trucks.
“I like them because you get to drive on them like a real car,” he said about race cars, one of which was on site for the kids’ perusal.
The young campers also got to sit behind the wheel of a race car simulator, , courtesy of JKS Motorsports, and power a toy cars down a tabletop track.
The keynote speaker was Matt Murphy, a 13-year-old racing sensation who recently finished fifth at an event at the Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama. Murphy, who has been racing since he was six, lives in Charlotte but is a fixture in Winston-Salem, as his grandparents reside here. His grandpa, Clarence Millner, is a former stock car racing champ.
Murphy talked racing basics with campers and answered their questions. He brought along his custom Pro All-Stars Series Pro Late Model class car – and several of his trophies – for the kids to gawk at.
“It is fun to show the kids about a race car,” said Murphy, who gives back regularly through his Project SHARE program. “I can tell them a lot about the race car. I let them ask their question and I try to simplify the mechanics for them so they understand.”
The camp was free and open to young people of all ages. Clay Harshaw, a WSSU assistant professor and coordinator of the university’s Motorsports Management Program, said outreach is a big part of why the program exists.
“Part of the reason that we are at Winston-Salem State is to help the motorsport industry become more diverse. We want to get diversity behind the scenes and in the business aspect of it,” Harshaw said. “We want to bring motorsports to kids that might not have the exposure to it. We are hoping that some of the kids take an interest in it and attend school for motorsports.”
The camp certainly got attendees’ attention. Ja’Nya Wilkerson, 10, and Ajah Bonner, 9, said they enjoyed themselves – the racing simulator and meeting Murphy, especially.
They also were happy to leave with goodies. Each camper received a back-pack filled with a t-shirt, water bottle and other WSSU paraphernalia.
WSSU students in the Motorsports Management Program learn the ends and outs of the auto-racing industry, which has several hubs in North Carolina and throughout the Southeast.