PAT event revs young imaginations

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Lane Brandt

Race car drivers, parents, grandparents and children mingled Monday night amid racing activities, craft sessions and sounds of "vrooom, vrooom."

The Parents As Teachers Pit Crew event, which took place on a grassy area near Marshall High School, provided families with some competitive races and stations to meet real race car drivers without the extremely loud noises and other inconveniences of a night at the race track.

Barbara Utterback's three sons, Clayton, 3, Dillon, 6, and Ethan, who will be 2 in November, enjoyed racing toy cars down various slopes of ramps at one station. Clayton, who didn't want to leave the station, especially liked the "slow" car and how it went down the cardboard slope at a snail's pace.

At the station where children could meet MHS senior Derick Samson, who races a go-cart, Eli Cook, 5, jumped inside the go-cart to see how it felt to be behind the wheel of a machine that could go as fast as 80 mph.

"He just came to look at the cars," said his mother, Carol Cook. "All he wants to do is look at the race cars and it's not like he never sees them. He just can't get enough."

Eli, sporting a Rob Kluender T-shirt, said the man was his uncle, whom he likes to watch race.

Dalton Griffith

Drivers such as Samson brought their cars, trucks and race cars for children to look at up close and some of the drivers even signed their autographs on booklets for children to take home.

Bryan Mach, 7, who was at the Pit Crew event with his family, said he had been in a go-cart before, but at a place that was "just for fun" and not a real race. He was excited about looking at all the cars and meeting the drivers because he often watches NASCAR races on television with his father.

While Pit Crew was PAT's first planned evening of this type, coordinator Mary Keller estimated that about 100 people turned out for the event and she hopes the organization can plan something similar for next year.

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