Cub Scout Derek Winters loves cars.
He loves the movie Cars. He loves his grandfather’s collection of NASCAR die-cast model cars. And, of course, he loves the Pinewood Derby.
When deciding on a design for this year’s Pack 2 Pinewood Derby Race, the Flint River Council Cub Scout took inspiration from his grandfather’s collection.
“I want The King,” Derek, 9, told his grandfather, Rob Weaver.
Derek pointed to the model of Richard Petty’s red-and-blue Pontiac Grand Prix, in which the NASCAR legend recorded his 200th and final victory on July 4, 1984.
What happened next defied anyone’s expectations.
The Facebook post and tweet
Weaver took pictures of his grandson’s car and posted them to Facebook. Then he got more than mere likes from friends and family.
“I received various emails from Richard Petty Motorsports,” Weaver said. “And they posted Derek and me with his car on Twitter!”
Here’s the tweet:
— RPMotorsports (@RPMotorsports) February 11, 2016
Things got better still.
After the tweet, Weaver received a phone call from the Flint River Council inviting Weaver and Derek to Atlanta Motor Speedway “because The King wanted to meet Derek and see, then sign, the now-famous Pinewood Derby car,” Weaver said.
They received tickets to the race, a garage tour and a 15-minute meeting with Petty.
The TV interview
Weaver called the Atlanta Motor Speedway to ask about food in the infield area for his grandson. He wanted to Be Prepared, after all.
“When I was asked why we would be joining them in the infield, I briefly explained his story,” Weaver said. “I was put on hold, then a lady in the PR department answered all of my questions. She then asked me to telephone the local Fox affiliate to see if they could video this.”
They could indeed. Here’s the report:
Weaver was awed by the power of social media to amplify a positive story. But he was even more impressed by Petty’s interaction with Derek.
“He treated Derek like he was the only person there,” Weaver said. “He signed lots of autographs and talked with Derek the whole time. He called Derek by name, and for all of the people he sees daily, this made an impression on me.”