Caleb Wright didn’t mince words after trying on NASCAR driver Kyle Larson’s heavy, full-body fire suit.
“It was hot,” the fifth-grader at Meeting Street Academy said Tuesday in the school’s courtyard. “Like, really hot. I wanted to sweat.”
Larson, who was making his second visit to Meeting Street Academy in as many years, spoke to students about perseverance and teamwork. And just like last year, Larson’s sponsor, Credit One Bank, donated $25,000 to the school.
School officials passed a microphone around so students could hurl their questions at Larson. One girl asked Larson if he knew about the life-threatening risks associated with NASCAR. The six-year veteran took the question in stride.
“I knew I wouldn’t make it in the NBA or the NFL,” he joked, referencing his 5-foot-6 stature. “Racing is a great sport for short guys.”
After fielding questions from the kids, Larson spoke about what it takes to reach one's goals. It’s not easy competing against some of the best in the world, he said.
Hard work and dedication is key, and having the right people around is equally important, he told them.
“I’m the driver so they often only see me,” Larson said. “But there are a hundred people behind the scenes making it possible for me to go out there and compete.”
Larson’s relationship with Charleston began a year ago when Credit One chose to donate to Meeting Street Academy.
With another $25,000 donated to the school, Principal Dirk Bedford said the support is invaluable.
The school is able to buffer several of its programs with the funds, including its arts, chess club, and violin classes, as well as flag football, basketball and lacrosse.
In addition, the money has helped build the LEGO Robotics Club, which includes building and programming a robot for competition. Club members have been able to take field trips across the state to further their studies.
“All of these things have been made possible thanks to Credit One,” Bedford said. “And, of course, Kyle being here is just as important. He’s teaching them that when you see an obstacle, you can work to overcome it.”
Larson, 26, is currently No. 10 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, ahead of other big names like Chase Elliot and Jimmy Johnson.
“We’re doing a lot to grow the sport, and I’m excited about where we are," Larson said. "It’s been a really solid year for racing.”
Larson will be back in South Carolina for the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 2.