GM CEO Rick Wagoner Attends Urban Youth Racing School

by : Noah Scott

The Philly-based Urban Youth Racing School that promotes careers in motorsports for city kids through the school's board chairman James Farmer has invited General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner for its 8th annual dinner last night.

Anthony Martin, the founder of the Urban Youth Racing School was so thrilled to know that Rick Wagoner would join their 8th annual dinner celebration and even narrated the time when he saw GM's CEO. It was last January at Detroit while accepting a diversity-in-motor-sports award he spotted a famous face, "Rick Wagoner, the Chairman and CEO of General Motors, was sitting in the crowd. I don't think that he knew that he supported our program. When I accepted the award, 'I said, I'd like to thank General Motors for their support' and then I saw him smile. He was stunned."

Wagoner speak before a crowd comprising of more than 500 students and famous racers at a 'Build a Dream' awards dinner at the Sheraton Society Hill in which he encouraged students to pursue their dreams.

Joining Wagoner at the dinner was NASCAR president Mike Helton. According to Martin having both Helton and Wagoner at the dinner "will open a lot of eyes around the country about how big our organization really is and how much support we get."

Even Mike Helton, NASCAR President has praised Rick Wagoner for attending the dinner. He said, "For Rick Wagoner to take time to come here speaks volumes...this is a great model for other urban markets to look at." The presence of the General Motors at the 8th annual dinner provided by the Urban Youth Racing School signifies the humility that the world's largest automaker possesses despite its global standing. General Motors is renowned worldwide for its line of auto brands (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall) and quality auto parts like .

The first branch of the Urban Youth Racing School opened last year in Washington D.C. Although there are still no Urban Youth drivers who are skilled enough to race in any of the NASCAR's top three series namely: Nextel Cup, Bush and Craftsman Truck but the school serves as a training ground for those aspiring youngsters who would one day wants to be able to race on the professional league.

Martin said, "The NASCAR teams have embraced us. Our kids have had internships. It's feasible that some of them will get to NASCAR."

Mike Helton has also given some inspirational speech to boost the spirit of young aspiring NASCAR drivers, "Our effort is to tell the NASCAR story wherever we can tell it. You don't drive by schools and see racetracks. You see soccer, baseball, and football fields and gymnasiums. We have to be about creating more opportunity. If NASCAR has interest to someone and they say, 'That's neat; I'd like to do that,' that next step is a big step."

But of course aside from racing the Urban Youth Drivers are also encouraged to finish college. As a fact, one of the Urban Youth drivers Lamott Ebron, 19, a Simon Gratz High School senior, plans to attend Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C. Ebron said, "My goal is to get into fabrication or building cars. Last summer, I interned at Hendrick Motorsports. I started at the very bottom, cleaning the haulers that carry the race cars and dry cleaning. I worked my way up."

There are students also at the Urban Youth Racing School who are focused on racing just like Kyle Baker, age 16, who is thinking Formula One. He is currently a student at Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter High School. He was also given the opportunity to drive a Formula 3 race car in Monterey California.

Likewise, brothers Johnny and Jeremy Ortiz are also thinking Formula One or Nextel Cup. Jeremy is a student at Carver High School of Engineering and Science while his brother Johnny is a student at Abraham Lincoln High.

To grace the 8th annual dinner of the Urban Youth Racing School were Cup drivers Kyle Busch and Casey Mears, together with Oakland Raiders receiver Randy Moss who Martin said is getting involved in racing.