Having completed a record-setting season of racing, teenage sports car driver Tristan Nunez is not resting during the off-season.
Instead he is helping cheer up sick children and actively campaigning to alert his peers to the dangers of distracted driving.
Nunez, who turned 17 at the end of October, capped a phenomenal rookie season of racing—11 wins, 12 poles, and seven lap records, plus becoming the youngest driver ever to win a sports car championship—with a successful pair of weekends in England, where he beat 120 of the world’s top young drivers to win the Walter Hayes Trophy.
A few days later on Nov. 11, the speedy teen was giving high-speed rides around Homestead-Miami Speedway to pediatric cancer patients from Baptist Children’s Hospital and Miami Children’s Hospital as part of the Southern Automotive Media Association “Rides ‘n’ Smiles” event.
Nunez and several other drivers donated their time to bring a few minutes of excitement to children whose days might otherwise might be bleak. About 170 children showed up and were treated to hot laps in a variety of exotic cars including the Performance Tech Motorsports IMSA Lites DP02 (in which Nunez won the championship) and the team’s ALMS LMPC Oreca 09 (which Nunez might be driving next season.)
In the afternoon about the same number of injured military vets from the Wounded Warriors program showed up to get the same high-speed happiness injection.
Distracted Driving-Don’t Do It
Nunez is best known as a phenomenally talented teen racer—Sports Illustrated featured him in a “Face in the Crowd” segment and CNN is putting together a segment about his amazing 2012 season—but racing is only one side of the teen athlete’s personality, something the CNN feature will also emphasize.
On Tuesday Nov. 13, Nunez attended the inaugural Florida Distracted Driving Summit along with a number of state and federal officials, including Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. The event was held at the at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Fla.
Nunez has been carrying the message “Dnt txt n drV” on the side of his race car all season. As a racer, he knows firsthand how dangerous driving can be, and as a teen, he hopes to be able to reach his peers better than a traditional adult authority figure.
“I thought that as a race car driver I’d probably have a better shot at influencing change with this message against distracted driving,” Nunez said in a press statement. “I’ve taken a stand and speak up whenever I can. Today, I use my racing career to promote better, more responsible driving. It’s pretty simple: Dnt txt n drV.”“I’ve been attending festivals, events, and speaking to my peers on the topic whenever I can,” Nunez continued. “While attending an event recently at Atlanta Motor Speedway on behalf of the Safe American Foundation, I realized we still have a lot of work to do but I’m committed to helping however I can.”