Shell-Pennzoil youth program helps fuel student success

Students from Colton Middle School prepare to race balloon cars as part of the Fuel for Success program sponsored by Shell Oil.

While most students were taking it easy on spring break, a group of area middle schoolers were busy blowing away competition during a balloon car race last week at Eisenhower High School as part of Shell Oil’s Fuel for Success program.

Huffing and puffing in order to get the ultimate lead, students like Colton Middle School’s Joshua Sandoval hoped his light-weight design would get him to the finish line in record time.

“It’s more than taping materials together and sticking a balloon to the front to make a car,” said Joshua. “It’s science.”

And that was the overall theory dozens of students from Alisa Jara-Williamson’s science classes at Colton Middle School practiced to take on the event.

“It’s a great way to combine what we’re learning in physics class with a really cool program and show the kids science in action,” Williamson said about the balloon races. “It’s hands-on learning.”

The Fuel for Success program is a partnership between Shell Oil and eight law enforcement agencies–including Colton and Rialto police departments–aimed at exposing youth to various careers within the racing industries and promoting new avenues to build successful futures for youth.

Students from both Colton-Joint and Rialto unified school districts who participated in the Fuel for Success program as well as the balloon car races earned a trip to the recent NASCAR series at the Fontana Speedway March 23.

First and second place winners of the balloon car race were awarded certificates from 5th district county Supervisor Josie Gonzales and prizes from Shell.

But the program offers more than just a visit to the race track.

It aims at creating successful students into higher education, said Rialto police Cpl. Cameron Nelson.

“It gives (students) another outlet to become successful and it’s a great way to get them motivated and participating in new experiences.”

And the event wasn’t just about driving youth into a little friendly racing competition.

Members of the Inland Valley SWAT Team took to a racetrack on campus in an obstacle course against Penske driver Joey Logano’s pit crew.

Jumping in and out of go karts and zooming through laps around a course set up by Ike’s gymnasium, the SWAT team was able to bring home the coveted trophy after last year’s win by Penske.

Along with the go kart race, the event featured dozens of vendors, food, and a kids fun zone that included a rock climbing wall, pony rides and activities hosted by Rialto Recreation.

Plans to host additional events are in the works, Nelson said.

To learn more about the Fuel for Success program, visit[/restrict]

Yazmin Alvarez is a reporter with Inland Empire Community Newspapers. You can reach her at or 909-381-9898 ext. 207.


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