Jamie McMurray Goes Back To School

Jamie McMurray visited with Martinsville High School's MADawgs robotics team. McMurray was intown to promote the STP 500 on April 3.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray traded in his steering wheel for a joystick and played with robots at Martinsville High School on Wednesday.


McMurray, who was in town to help promote the STP 500 on April 3, spent the morning doing some STEM-based learning with the school’s robotics team, the MADawgs.


“I feel old but I don’t think I’ve been back to high school since I graduated,” McMurray laughed. “It was really cool to see the program and the kids all work together as a team. That’s so important in NASCAR, but also in life in general; to be able to work well with others and face the challenges.”


The robotics team applies engineering and math skills to build robots from the ground up. They then compete in competitions around the state.


Not unlike NASCAR, the team is given a set of parameters to work in, then faces a ridged inspection process, competes and then comes home to prepare for the next competition.


“I thought it was really cool to see all the time the kids put in after-hours,” McMurray said. “It’s really neat and is something I would have wanted to do when I was in school.”


One student, Andrew Barberena, got an added surprise. The team captain, who in addition to going to Martinsville High School is taking classes at night in the motorsports program at Patrick Henry Community College, will be an honorary team member when McMurray and crew roll back into town for the STP 500.


“It means a lot because honestly, I’m speechless right now about it,” Barberena said. “I mean it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that I’m chosen out of everybody to do this and I questioned myself ‘why me?’, but I guess there’s something that interest them.”


Barbarena wasn’t the only person excited about the opportunity.

“The exciting part for me was knowing how excited he is,” McMurray said. “I thought the look on his face when they called his name was priceless and I know it’s a really big deal.”


Barberena comes from a racing family, both his father and brother have spent some time behind the wheel, and for him the saying ‘racing is in my blood’ holds true.


“It’s what I want to do in the future so it’s an amazing background for me,” he said. “I love the robotics, I love racing, so it all ties in together to do for what I want to do in the future.”

Barberena and McMurray will team up for the STP 500 race weekend April 1-3.

The weekend starts with Virginia Lottery Pole Day on Friday and continues with the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday.

The STP 500 is on Sunday, April 3. Tickets start at $45.

Ticket prices increase the week of the race.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

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