MIAMI – One month removed from crowning NASCAR’s champions in all three national series, Homestead-Miami Speedway is set to honor another kind of champion off the racetrack. The South Florida track announced today the winner of the “Write Track Poetry” program, a joint initiative between the track, the Jason Taylor Foundation and Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
This year marks the fourth consecutive year that the Speedway has partnered with the school district and the Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network of the Jason Taylor Foundation to hold the Write Track Poetry competition, which promotes interest in writing and literacy through poetry with a focus on a NASCAR theme.
The program kicked off in September this year when more than 4,000 students in grades 6-8 from 31 Miami-Dade Public Schools participated in pep rallies where the kids were treated to spoken-word performances from members of the bluapple Poetry Network. More than 3,400 poems were submitted based on the theme, How do you accelerate towards your future?
This year’s winning poem was submitted by Katherine Guerra, an eighth grade student at Richmond Heights Middle School. Guerra’s poem was professionally recorded and produced (video above). The top poets, including Katherine, will be awarded the unique opportunity to be driven to school in Homestead-Miami Speedway’s Official Pace Car.
With a 100 percent participation rate, W.R. Thomas Middle School was the winning school, submitting 405 poems – the most of any participating school. The school will receive a donation from Homestead-Miami Speedway’s charitable outreach program, “Driving for a Cause.”
“Our track’s initiative to make an impact in the community with the “Write Track Poetry” program is important because poetry and writing helps youth cultivate creatively” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Al Garcia. “We’ve seen participation in the program increase each year since its inception in 2016, and we will continue to encourage students to explore their artistic abilities.”
In the four years of the program’s existence, almost 12,000 students have been introduced to spoken word poetry and more than 7,000 poems have been written as part of the competition. For its efforts in expanding the sport’s scope amongst local youth, the Jason Taylor Foundation was honored as the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Awards Institution award winner in 2018.