Photos: NASCAR comes to West

Messenger photos by Pat Donahue

NASCAR driver Jeff Burton autographs a fender for Todd Barthelmas of Orient, Ohio, who made his way to West High School to meet his racing hero for the first time at a Sept. 3 event to promote safe driving. Barthelmas purchased the fender in a charity auction in Charlotte North Carolina and was thrilled with the opportunity to see Burton in person. Burton is currently ranked fifth in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series and also races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Nationwide Insurance was the sponsor of the West High School event as part of its “Driving While Distracted” campaign. The campaign will visit 10 sites this season. All will coincide with a NASCAR Nationwide Series race with the exception of the visit to West.

Fourteen-year-old Daniel Goins of Gahanna (rear) and West High sophomore Howard Bowman went for a spin in the NASCAR simulator to test their abilities around the race track and even compare them against driver Jeff Burton’s score, but on the second lap they were faced with the distraction of sending a text message. Both felt that they did good on the first lap but recognized the challenges presented by the distraction in the second. Hundreds of students and community members showed up for the event to win prizes, meet Burton and try their hand at “Driving While Distracted.”

NASCAR driver Jeff Burton at West High School on Sept. 3.

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