Simpson Elementary student wins NASCAR design contest

All of Sabrina Marelli’s classmates and fellow W.B. Simpson Elementary School fifth-graders crowd around the pace car to get a better view of the contest-winning artwork Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

All of Sabrina Marelli’s classmates and fellow W.B. Simpson Elementary School fifth-graders crowd around the pace car to get a better view of the contest-winning artwork Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

WYOMING — W.B. Simpson Elementary fifth-grader Sabrina Marelli got a unique surprise Wednesday — seeing a NASCAR Toyota pace car covered in a design she created last month.

The exact moment when W.B. Simpson Elementary School fifth-grader Sabrina Marelli, center, realizes that she was the winner as the pace car pulls up in front of them. She is joined by fellow fifth-graders Nadia Cisneros, left, and Dreux Lail.

The exact moment when W.B. Simpson Elementary School fifth-grader Sabrina Marelli, center, realizes that she was the winner as the pace car pulls up in front of them. She is joined by fellow fifth-graders Nadia Cisneros, left, and Dreux Lail.

Sabrina’s design was chosen from more than 500 submissions from 11 schools across the state as part of the Monster Mile Youth Nation Design Challenge.

“It’s kind of crazy, I really didn’t think I would win,” Sabrina said when she first saw the pace car.

Sabrina and the other students completed their designs at school in March as a tie-in with National Youth Art Month.

“We sat down to look at all the entries and we liked the bright colors and that she incorporated the lady bug and our nickname, ‘The Monster Mile,’” said Gary Camp, senior director communications at Dover International Speedway.

The design was mostly yellow with colorful stripes across the hood, orange checkers on the back and a lady bug on the roof.

“When I made it, I pictured it on the track and knew I wanted to make it bright and colorful,” Sabrina said. “I also wanted to add some things to it that people that aren’t from Delaware might want to see so that’s why I drew the state bug.”

After all W.B.’s fifth-graders had the chance to get an up-close look at Sabrina’s design, she got to take a spin in the Toyota with Erik Jones, the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.

Mr. Camp said it was exciting to see the wide variety of submissions and he hopes it’s a tradition Dover International Speedway can continue.

28dsn Monster Mile Youth Nation Design Winner 003

W.B. Simpson Elementary School fifth grader and Monster Mile Youth Nation Design Challenge winner Sabrina Marelli shakes hands with 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Erik Jones after he drove the pace car covered with her winning design.

“We did the contest to get young fans interested in the sport and to come out to the race because once they come to check it out, it may be a sport they end up really enjoying,” he said. “We like to do promotions like this to increase community engagement with racing and hopefully this competition is something we continue doing.”

Most of W.B.’s fifth-graders are already well-acquainted with NASCAR — nearly half the students raised their hand when Speedway staff asked who had seen a NASCAR race before.

But Sabrina as part of winning the competition will do much more than just see a race. She will be awarded a VIP experience at the May 14 NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash race including being on stage for the pre-race show.

The upcoming NASCAR triple-header runs from May 13 to 15 at Dover International Speedway.

For tickets or more information, call (800) 441-RACE or visit DoverSpeedway.com.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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