O’Reilly Auto Parts 500


Blanton Elementary School fourth-grader Grant Baer wasn’t pleased about being pulled away from his friends and schoolwork for a dreaded dentist appointment.

What began as a disappointing trip to the orthodontist, however, ended not in a dental chair but in Texas Motor Speedway’s infield, where the 10-year-old was soon smiling from ear to ear.

After walking puzzlingly through the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage instead of into the waiting room of his orthodontist, Baer’s confusion soon turned into elation as he found himself face to face with his racing idol, NASCAR driver David Ragan of Front Row Motorsports.

“I’ve been a fan of his for about seven years,” said Baer, who attends Blanton Elementary in nearby Lantana, Texas. “I like seeing him race around the tracks. I like how he goes on a smooth ride, not on a risk ride.”

Ragan, who was at Texas Motor Speedway for a test session last week along with Prosper’s Chris Buescher of JTG Daugherty Racing, took time out of his day to meet with Baer and his family. He gave them a tour of the garage and hauler, a look inside the cockpit of his car, signed some autographs and even introduced him to Buescher. 

“I thought I was going to an ortho (appointment),” said Baer with a beaming smile shining through his braces. “I couldn’t have imagined something like this.”

“I had braces on my top and bottom,” Ragan said. “I don’t like to tell a lot of people, but I had to wear headgear for a little while.”

Baer shared photos with Ragan of a recent Halloween in which he dressed like the NASCAR driver to go trick-or-treating. Baer spent time finding, printing and cutting out the decals and sponsorship logos to put on his home-made firesuit.

“Just meeting him,” said Baer when asked about his favorite part of the experience. “He’s the person I like a lot.”

Baer and his family will be returning to Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 8 to see Ragan race in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.

And it’s safe to assume it won’t be extremely difficult to get Baer to the track on that day. Or rather, it won’t be like pulling teeth.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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