PECOS, Texas (Nexstar) – Class suddenly became really interesting today at Pecos High School for dozens of students.
For them, it was a rare chance to see a race car pull up to campus. It was all part of a big push to teach students about automotive technology and safety.
Students had no need for textbooks or pencils. All they needed were eyes and ears, because the lesson was all hands-on. A new teacher was rolling into town, for what would be the most interesting and unusual lesson of the day.
A race car was in tow, brought in from the skirts of Texas that honors the legacies of famed sniper Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield, who were gunned down by a former Marine.
The arrival of the race car crew was a fitting experience because most of the students present are in auto technology class at the high school. I say most, because students from other classes even showed up, once word got out that a race car was parked outside. For the race car’s driver, Nancy Matters, this was a high octane moment.
“Well, we would like to inspire automotive students to continue down that path of doing automotive,” Matters said. “There’s becoming a shortage of techs and people who know how to turn wrenches.”
One by one, shirts were handed out to students, reading “Nitro Matters.”
An Illinois businessman, Tom Henley of C & T Trucking, even donated enough meals to feed the students today.
Then, the lesson began.
“The other idea of bringing the race car here was to show them the safety features of drag racing, and to promote drag racing,” Matters said.
There’s no speedometer, and forget a brake pedal. You will have to use a lever if you want to stop. Nancy showed the racing suit she has to wear. Students held it in awe, impressed by the heftiness of the material. It’s to make sure Nancy is safe if a fire ever breaks out.
And, get this: the high caliber, top-speed drag machine is called a “Funny Car.” Well, because the car looks a little funny.
But the big part of today’s show and tell was what Nancy calls, the “Throttle Whack.” Plug your ears, because things are about to get crazy.
For what seemed like an eternal whirring of noise, Nancy sat in the driver’s seat, with her crew around her. Pipes alongside the machine rattled, shook and spit. Students covered their heads, too eager for the moment. Then, the throttle whack happened. It was loud.
Students chimed in about the experience.
“I’m not going to lie, that scared me a little bit.”
“It caught me by surprise. I was like wow.”
“It was loud, I thought it was over. Then, she revved it, and it scared me.”
“It was like…” The student motioned with his hands, unable to describe the moment. Apparently, it left him speechless.
So, what about the top speed? Nancy says in a quarter mile, the funny car can hit 248 MPH. It’s goose bump inducing, heart stopping, and almost frightening.
“It’s about 3.8 G’s at the launch, approximately 4,000 horse power,” Matters said.
There was no doubt during the presentation the crew loved what they did. It may be hard to compare it winning a race, but this show and tell almost seemed better than that.
“Even if it’s just five students, if we can make a difference in one student’s life, or maybe a couple hundred, then that’s what it’s all about,” Matters said. “Come hang out with us, come to the track.”
One student got into the driver’s seat.
“It’s so comfortable, I love it. I feel like I want to race now,” she said.
“Do you have a need for speed?” I ask.
“Yes, I want to go FAST!”
This grand tour of safety continues on Saturday at the Penwell Knights Raceway. Pecos High students will be invited to the starting line at 6 P.M.
Nancy Matters says her trip to Pecos wouldn’t have been possible without the support from all her sponsors. She would like to thank Effex Powder Coating and Laser Engraving, NTX Diesel LLC, Autolite Spark Plugs, Darton Sleeves, Baitmaster – The Obvious Choice, SSI Auto, Clean Boost Oil, Pac Racing Springs, and Bullet Cams.