HOLLY SPRINGS — Students in the Surry County school system are required to create a project they will present during their senior year, and often they spend years vacillating between this idea and that.
Not Tanner Sheets.
A junior at East Surry High School, Sheets is in the process of putting together a project that has been in the back of his mind since he heard about a program that combines two of his loves: Helping the community and good old fashioned racin’.
“The projects must benefit the community in one way or the other, and I thought that if I could work it around something I’m interested in, all I would have to do from there is figure out how it can benefit the community,” he said.
One thing is for sure, the high school junior is at the very least “interested” in racing.
“I started out not knowing much of anything about racing, but I did know it was what I want to do for a career,” he said. “I want to work in NASCAR, so this is my second year of working for a pit crew at Bowman Gray Stadium every Saturday.”
Sheets, who works for driver John Smith, said modestly that he “takes care of the tires.”
“As I’ve gained experience, I’ve been given the opportunity to do more and more, so these days I pretty much take care of the tires and do whatever else needs to be done,” he said.
While at the track, and with the nagging burden of an impending senior project in the back of his mind, Sheets heard about a NASCAR-related charity.
“It’s called Pit Stops for Poverty,” he said, “and it’s a charity put together by people in NASCAR who wanted to raise money for the hungry,” Sheets said.
It works like this: Teams promise to donate a certain amount to the charity for every pit stop during a given race that is considered “good.” That is, the car is in and out of the pits in less than 12 seconds.
“I wanted to do this because my driver told me about it,” Sheets said. “After researching it, I thought it could be a great way to help the community, and it also combines my love of racing with my senior project. I thought it would be better than doing a project on something I don’t care about. This is a way to bring those two things together.”
For his project, Sheets is contacting racing teams and asking for merchandise he can raffle. The proceeds will be donated to Pit Stops for Poverty.
“At this point I’m starting to get some merchandise,” he said. “Once we get all the merchandise together I’ll start selling tickets and at the end I will draw names for the merchandise.”
Sheets said thus far, the teams have been receptive.
“They have been great,” he said. “Some of them need documentation but once they find out what I’m trying to do they’ve been awesome.”
Anyone interested in purchasing a raffle ticket or donating merchandise should call Sheets at 336-710-1990.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter