PHOTO: Children are able to sign the hood of Troy Kingsbury’s Street Stock if they are able to read 15 books in the Race-to-Read program. Kingsbury became the second consecutive Race-to-Read Driver of the Week to win their respected feature event on Sunday. (Alan Ward photo)

“Race-to-Read” Program Two-for-two at Thunder Road

–by T.J. Ingerson

BARRE — Troy Kingsbury scored his second career Thunder Road Allen Lumber Street Stock victory on Sunday, and he did so by holding off Cameron Ouellette in the late stages of the race.

But Kingsbury also had a little extra motivation on his side — he was the Race to Read Driver of the Week.

Kingsbury brought the program to Vermont after hearing about a fellow race car driver promoting a similar program.

“Tyler Jordan, a 15-year-old kid in North Carolina, came up with this idea,” Kingsbury explained. “I thought it was such a good idea. I’m a parent of a ten-year-old, and I said I have to do that here.”

The program is simple: kids sign up to read 15 books, and once they read all 15, they sign the hood on Kingsbury’s Street Stock. Kingsbury visited area schools to promote the program, and was able to have Nick Sweet, Brooks Clark, and Mike Ziter attend as well.

“When I go to schools and see the excitement of the kids, and can bring Nick Sweet, Mike Ziter, Brooks Clark, it’s like wow. It’s empowering,” Kingsbury said. “Then the kids get excited and they start reading without having the battle with their parents. When we talk to the teachers and hear how smoothly things are running, it’s amazing.”

Thunder Road joined Kingsbury in promoting the program to encourage kids, as well. Each week, kids sign up at Thunder Road if they show progress on their reading. One name is drawn from the entrants, and is able to select who he or she would like to be the Race to Read Driver of the Week.

Nick Sweet was the first driver to be the Race to Read Driver of the week. He won the Memorial Day Classic. Kingsbury was chosen for week two, and celebrated by winning the 25-lap feature.

“I didn’t expect a trophy finish after my heat race,” Kingsbury said. “When you start moving up [in the field during the race] and you feel the momentum and that drive of just having a kid believe in you, it gives you a little bit of extra [motivation].”

The two Race-to-Read winners were able to celebrate with the respective drivers in victory lane. Kingsbury feels that is only extra motivation for the driver-of-the-week to succeed.

“You realize there is someone who believes in you,” Kingsbury said. “I think that’s what this sport is all about, believing in each other. You believe in that driver on the outside won’t wreck you. You believe in your car that is going to have the power to go around the car in front of you. There is a lot of faith in this. And having kids involved just brings it to this next level. It’s just awesome.”

Kingsbury was talking to kids and encouraging them to sign up for the program after his win on Sunday. It may be safe to say that there will be more entrants this week.