WAVERLY — NASCAR driver Ross Chastain, also known as ‘The Watermelon Man,’ spoke with the Waverly High School’s drivers education class about seatbelt safety on Monday.

With the watermelon painted No. 4 Camaro in the background, Chastain talked with students about the importance of buckling up and “protecting your melon!”

The students were also given the chance to hop in the race car and talk with Chastain about how he stays safe driving in races, including how many seatbelts he has to wear.

After talking with the students, Chastain challenged the teens to the “Battle of the Belts.”

Split into groups of four, the students were challenged to race to the drivers education vans, get in and buckle up before moving clockwise in the van and buckling up again about three times, similar to musical chairs. The fastest time of all the groups was 34 seconds.

For Chastain, he hopes the message stays with the teens throughout their lives.

“Just make buckling their seatbelt a habit, not something forced. It just happens and they don’t even realize it. It’s second nature,” Chastain said. “Heading home or sometime in the future, one of them does it and they’re unfortunate enough to be in an accident and it saves a life, it’s all worth the trip and effort of everybody.”

“It’s not been something I thought I would be in public speaking and trying to influence people close to my age,” Chastain said. “My team’s path through NASCAR and the success we’re having, we’re becoming more and more well-known. If they leave the battle of the belts and looking at the race car today ... (and) if they just remember the message of clicking their seatbelt, it takes two seconds.”

Jen Rodriguez can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 229 or jrodriguez@morning-times.com. Follow Jen on Twitter @JrodriguezMt.

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