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NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace surprises Lionel Racing ‘Design A Die-Cast’ winner at B.B. Owen Elementary

by Mike Haag | Posted on Friday, April 7th, 2017

FORT WORTH, Texas  – Before a rousing crowd of nearly 500 elementary school students at B.B. Owen in The Colony, NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Bubba Wallace made a recent visit to surprise fourth-grader Xavier Gooden with a Lionel Racing 1:24 scale die-cast bearing his winning design in Lionel Racing’s “Design A Die-Cast” competition.

THE COLONY, TX – APRIL 06: NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Bubba Wallace addresses the assembly on stage during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

The school welcomed Wallace in grand fashion with a police escort; The Colony High School drum line, cheerleaders and Top Cats performing at the entrance; welcome signs; and a balloon-shaped Victory Lane on the school stage for his special appearance on behalf of Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program.

“That was huge,” Bubba Wallace said.  “We kind of played a little joke on them with our travel disaster we had today. We were able to make it here a little bit late, but brought the kids a face they wanted to see. It was a good time. A lot of cheers, screams. Not even a couple boos like I get at the track; it was all positive and that was a lot of fun walking out and getting to spend some time with the kids at B.B. Owen.”

After the school’s top readers were acknowledged, Gooden was announced as the overall winner of the competition among the 5,000 students and 10 DFW schools competing in Speeding To Read this school year.

Fourth-grader Xavier Gooden shows off his winning design for the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” competition at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

Gooden’s design, which was pink, blue and green, was themed “Cure Cancer 2017” and had blue ribbons for colon cancer awareness. The paint scheme was dedicated to his two grandmothers with colon cancer, one of which he lost recently and the other – Clara Simmons – that was on hand for the presentation with several family members.

“It was cool having Xavier’s family here,” Wallace said.  “He is such a bright, young kid. He’s got a lot going for him. He’s exciting, he loves living life to the fullest each and every day. You can see that on his face. He is taking it all in. He understands everything that is going on around him. Keeping his family close. That’s something I strive for the same thing.”

The students presented Wallace, the driver of the No. 6 Leidos Ford Mustang, with a “good luck” banner for Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Texas Motor Speedway as well as a B.B. Owen Elementary t-shirt as the honored guest.

He also participated with students in a NASCAR quiz game; signed autographs and took photos with numerous students; toured the school including the hallway of die-cast designs; and finished with a photo in the “selfie” No. 6 car the students created for him and then signed the classroom door that featured his car number and sponsor.

Fourth-grader Xavier Gooden shows off his winning design with (L-R) NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Bubba Wallace, Gooden’s grandmother Clara Simmons, Brendan Droppo, paint scheme designer for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson, and Lionel Racing e-Commerce and Marketing Director Thomas DeBoyace during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

“That was special – touching,” Wallace said.  “It’s still something that is really sensitive to me. I didn’t expect the waterworks to come out, but it definitely happened.”

The assembly became emotional when Gooden explained to the audience that his paint scheme was a tribute to his two grandmothers, one who recently passed away and the other who was on hand for the presentation along with his parents and several other family members. She came on stage in tears to give her grandson a big embrace for his tribute. Wallace also teared up from the tribute, thinking of his Granny Jan who passed away this past fall in Knoxville, Tenn., and provided a warm embrace to Gooden’s grandmother when she came on stage.

“I just don’t know what to say. I am just speechless.” Xavier Gooden said. “It (paint scheme) was for my grandmas because they both had colon cancer, but one sadly didn’t survive. But the grandma on my dad’s side, she is still around. It was really cool to have my grandma here. I didn’t know everyone (from my family) was going to come and they did.”

Fourth-grader Xavier Gooden (L) points to his grandmother Clara Simmons in the audience after winning the overall Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” competition at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

Another significant reward of winning the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-Cast” competition is that Gooden’s design will be included in Lionel Racing’s commercial NASCAR Authentics die-cast line featuring all the cars of the sport’s stars that is expected out in December. Gooden’s car will be available in major retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Toys ‘R Us and Target. Proceeds from his car sales will be donated by Lionel Racing and the NASCAR Foundation to a designated charity in Gooden’s name.

Lionel Racing and Texas Motor Speedway also visited E.P. Rayzor Elementary in Lantana to recognize the kindergarten-2nd grade division winner of the “Design A Die-Cast” competition before an outdoor assembly of more than 400 students.

Second-grader Alysson Delloro had a winning design that featured a green paint scheme, flames on the hood, a pink roof, wolf footprints for their school mascot, and “Read,” “Speed” and “Race” on the car. It was a big day for Delloro, who also was recognized as the top KG-2nd individual reader for Turn 3 of Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program. Delloro and her family also earned tickets courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway for Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race and Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

Finally, B.B. Owen Elementary is a Title 1 school that is part of the Lewisville ISD. The school is in its first year competing in Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program and is currently tied with two-time defending champ E.P. Rayzor Elementary of the Denton ISD for the championship lead. The program has been extremely beneficial in incentivizing the students to read more frequently and improving their literacy skills.

Story and photos provided courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations

The Colony High School cheer squad awaits the arrival of NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Bubba Wallace for the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

The Colony High School drumline performs for the arrival of NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Bubba Wallace during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Bubba Wallace (center back) and fourth-grader Xavier Gooden (center front), winner of the die-cast competition, pose with his family during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Bubba Wallace stands next to the classroom door bearing his car number and sponsor during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

A student holds up a sign during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

The winning die-cast of fourth-grader Xavier Gooden is seen during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” competition at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Bubba Wallace (C), Lionel Racing e-Commerce Director (L) Thomas DeBoyace and Brendan Droppo, paint scheme designer for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson, pose in the school’s hallway of die-cast design artwork during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Bubba Wallace (2nd from left), Lionel Racing e-Commerce Director Thomas DeBoyace (2nd from right), and Brendan Droppo (L), paint scheme designer for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson, pose for a photo with Texas Motor Speedway Vice President of Media Relations Mike Zizzo (L) and faculty during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Bubba Wallace (L) and Lionel Racing e-Commerce Director Thomas DeBoyace (R) pose with fourth-grader Xavier Gooden, the overall winner of the die-cast competition, during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at B.B. Owen Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

Ella Christensen, the school’s Grades 3-5 finalist, poses with her mother during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at E.P. Rayzor Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in Lantana, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

Mrs. Wilson’s third-grade class, the school’s top Grades 3-5 classroom in Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program, poses for a photo during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at E.P. Rayzor Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in Lantana, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

Mrs. Watson’s kindergarten classroom, the top KG-2nd grade class in Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read program, poses for a photo during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at E.P. Rayzor Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in Lantana, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

Brendan Droppo (R), paint scheme designer for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson, and second grader Alysson Delloro, the die-cast winner for the KG-2nd grade division, pose for a photo during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at E.P. Rayzor Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in Lantana, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

The winning die-cast of K-2nd winner, Alysson Delloro, is seen during the Lionel racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at E.P. Rayzor Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in Lantana, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

Students cheer with their O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 rally towels from Texas Motor Speedway during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at E.P. Rayzor Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in Lantana, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

Alysson Delloro, the KG-2nd grade die-cast division winners, poses with her die-cast during the Lionel Racing “Design A Die-cast” presentation at E.P. Rayzor Elementary School on April 6, 2017 in Lantana, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 30 years. In addition to working for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 15 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike also teaches English at Floresville High School.