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Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science (KAMS)
Fort Hays State University
600 Park Street
Custer Hall 241
Phone: 785-628-4690

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From the Dirt to the Classroom by Eric Menendez, English 448 Writing Intern

March 15, 2017

Being a Kansas Academy of Math and Science (KAMS) student isn't all work and no play. Just ask Jed Werner of Plainville, Kansas, who spends his free time racing sprint cars. In fact, his entire family is involved with racing: "My dad used to race flat track motorcycles, and I have several cousins that race flat motorcycles, too." He also has a cousin who races with Top Fuel nitro bikes with the National Hot Rod Association. Werner himself has been racing since he was 6 years old, initially starting with go-karts, and switching to sprint cars when he turned 14.

Werner is a regular contender at the Hays RPM Speedway, thanks to the track being so close to his home. He enjoys help from his family and friends who also watch him race and do his best. He has many fond memories with the racetrack, thanks to his family and friends cheering him on. He even enjoys his talks with the other drivers and teams. His favorite racing memory is the time he won his first race at the Liberal Fairgrounds in Liberal, Kansas, with his father and uncle. While no one else in the KAMS program is as involved in car racing as he is, Werner knows of plenty car enthusiasts at KAMS, and his own friends are planning to come to his next race.

The fastest Werner has driven his sprint car is 130 mph, achieving that record at Belleville, Kansas. He details how going that fast can be a challenge, especially on dirt where turning the wheel to the left and having the car slide, making what he considers to be the biggest thrill. "At speeds like that, you can't think about what you are going to do next, you can only react." This requires plenty of trust between him and any driver that is a few feet from him, sometimes making contact.

Werner attributes his success in sprint cars to his youth and competitiveness. He has won two races and finished second in the United Rebel Sprint Series national points standing throughout his short career. "There isn't an age group that I am racing in, so I am put on the same track as people who have been doing this for decades, and I am still able to be very competitive with all of them."

Aside from his sprint-racing hobby, Werner also enjoys rocketry, the electric car race team, and work on a solar-powered UAV-all opportunities afforded through the KAMS program. When he was in the fourth grade, Werner found out about the KAMS program from a teacher. "Ever since I heard about it, I worked ahead in school and did higher level math classes."

In KAMS, he enjoys the new people he has met and appreciates the many opportunities the program has given him: "It isn't very often that a high-schooler gets to do college-level research and join cool clubs that aren't offered in high school."

Werner encourages prospective KAMS students to consider the program's endless opportunities. "The higher-level classes and people you meet open so many doors to help you on your way to a successful career." Werner loves being able to choose classes related to his possible career choice and enjoys the chance to pursue his many interests.


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