Brennan Poole Visits N.H. School
Over the last three months, 35 classes from four area schools that participated in New Hampshire Motor Speedway's inaugural Speeding to Read program finished close to 6,000 books. But in the end, it was two classes from Woodland Heights Elementary School in Laconia, N.H., that read the most, earning a visit from NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Brennan Poole on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old driver of the No. 48 for Chip Ganassi Racing visited the classrooms of teachers Jennifer Connelly and Norma Ross, whose two classes combined to read nearly 2,000 books. Poole answered questions from the students, signed autographs, shared some of his own childhood memories during a pizza party, gave away tickets to the July 15 Lakes Region 200 XFINITY Series race at NHMS, and even revved the engine of the speedway's showcar.
"As a kid, I wish I would have had such a great program like this to have a racecar driver come out to my school and answer questions and spend the day," said Poole, a native of The Woodlands, Texas, who is in his second full season driving for CGR in the XFINITY Series. "This was really cool to celebrate the kids on reading so many books and being with the top-two classes. This was a lot of fun."
The Speeding to Read program, which launched in March, saw four schools jump aboard for the inaugural run this spring, including Alton Center School, Loudon Elementary School, Elm St. School in Laconia, and Woodland Heights Elementary. Each school was split into two divisions - grades K-2 and 3-5 - with individuals, classrooms and schools competing to read the most books.
Connelly's first-grade class read 1,467 books, while Ross's fourth-grade class finished 518 books. In total, Woodland Heights had 18 participating classes that combined to read 4,075 books.
"It just so happened that we were really pushing reading this year because that's where we need the most work; to have a program like this come along and help with that was tremendous," said Eric Johnson, principal of Woodland Heights Elementary. "This program really opened the door for a lot of our kids, so we are thrilled with the response and the results."
The Speeding to Read program will begin again in September.
After leaving Woodland Heights, Poole made a quick pit stop to check out the new North East Motor Sports Museum at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Poole got a sneak peek and tour from NEMSM President Dick Berggren, who will officially open the museum's doors to the public on Monday, June 12.
Poole wrapped up his visit to the Granite State by checking out the recently installed New Hampshire Motor Speedway wall in the iconic Hooksett Rest Stop on the northbound side of Interstate 93.
His next visit to the area will come in a little more than a month when he races in the Lakes Region 200 XFINITY Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In two career XFINITY starts at NHMS, he has a pair of top-10 finishes, placing 10th in 2015 and sixth last July. He is currently ranked seventh with four top-10s in the XFINITY Series standings.
"With the speed that we've had in our racecars and the way things have been going, I'm hoping to go into that race and get my first win," said Poole. "I'm definitely excited about racing at New Hampshire."