Speed enthusiasts visited Vilonia Primary School on Friday hoping to rev up the engines of students and staff in celebration of Red Ribbon Week.
"We have some race car drivers here today with cool cars," said Jeanne Grissom of the Parent Center, introducing Curtis Cook, Randy Eakin and Wesley Fason during a Red Ribbon rally.
Following the rally, students filed outside for some up close and personal contact with the drivers and a couple of their racing cars. At the request of the children, the men revved up the racing cars’ engines. They also answered questions.
The most asked question by the students had to do with speed. They wanted to know how fast the cars would run. Cook told students the speed depends on the type of track. His fastest clocked speed, he said, was 125 miles per hour while "holding wide open."
At 24, Cook races full-time and he said he "makes his living" by doing so. He hopes to soon climb the ranks to national racing fame. In his fifth year of driving, he credits his father, Donny Cook, with his love for racing.
"Dad was a driver," he said. "As a kid, we rode bulls. He told us he would buy us a race car if we would quit riding bulls.
His plans include racing in New Mexico in two weeks. In July, he took home the win in the 30-lap Scrapp Fox Memorial race, a $2,000-to-win crown-jewel modified event at Beebe Speedway.
Fason, a mud racer, also competes as a hobby. His real claim to fame, he said, is being a member of Cook’s pit crew. Downplaying the attention shown to himself, he said, "Curtis is the one to watch. He is going to make it to the big time."
Eakin, who competes in the street stock class, began racing in 1994 at Centerville. He has several accomplishments under his belt. He was the "heat winner" in April at the Beebe Speedway and took home the championship win this year in Conway County.
"It’s just a fun hobby for me," he said. "I started helping when I was about 12, but didn’t really do it myself until 1994."
The drivers’ visit was in conjunction with the newly launched PIT CREW program at the school, which is short for "People In The Community Reaching, Encouraging and Working Toward Student Success."
During the rally, Wendy Janski, who serves alongside her husband, Sam, as crew chief, encouraged the students to go home and tell their parents about the PIT CREW.
Also, students were also entertained by the Vilonia High School Band and the Primary Melodies during the rally.
Principal Brian Ratliff told the students they are not the only school that will be celebrating Red Ribbon Week next week. Students around the country, he said, will be celebrating. He encouraged the students to make a decision this week to be drug free for the rest of their lives.