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Recovery from Hurricane Sandy; 17-Year-Old Race Car Driver Speaks Out Against Distracted Driving

Aired November 27, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET



CHILDREN: Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS with Carl Azuz.



CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: That was an enthusiastic intro, and credit goes to Ms. Bamer`s (ph) students for today`s hello. Glad to have all of you, middle and high school students out there watching as CNN STUDENT NEWS kicks off its Tuesday, November 27th broadcast.

Starting in the U.S. northeast today, we`ve talked about how the recovery from Superstorm Sandy is going to take a while. There are thousands of people who can`t get back in their homes, miles of pipes have to be reconnected, mold, as we show you yesterday, has to be dealt with. And bills.

Everything from cleanup costs to unpaid bills from people who had to evacuate. Those are piling up. These were few of the issues brought up yesterday, during a state hearing in New Jersey. Officials there are trying to get a handle on two things : how to pay for reconstruction efforts and what kinds of plans can be made to better protect the area if another storm hits.

Meanwhile, New York has gotten $27 million from the federal government to hire about 5,000 unemployed New Yorkers for work on Sandy cleanup projects. The job will be full-time, but temporary. New York`s governor and New York City`s mayor are asking for more federal money to make additional repairs in their state.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s first "Shoutout" goes out to Mr. Weisbeck`s senior government class at Timber Lake High School in Timber Lake, South Dakota.

Lewis Hamilton, Dario Frachitti and Juan Pablo Montoya are all known for their roles in what?

You know what to do. Are they all involved in auto racing, theater, horse racing or Congress?

You`ve got three seconds, go!

All three of these guys are involved in auto racing. That`s your answer, and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: And you can add Tristan Nunez to that list. At 17 years old, he`s around your age, he is one of the youngest auto racing champions ever. And what better spokesman against distracted driving than someone who wants to race cars for a living? Victor Blackwell joins us now with the tale of two talents: one about a driver, one about somebody who is hoping that one day, phones and driving will disconnect.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, drivers! Come get in line over here, please!

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Race car drivers on a race track. No big surprise. What might surprise you is that the favorite to win this race is just 17-years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you have half the field this side, half the field this size.

BLACKWELL: He is Tristan Nunez from Boca Raton, Florida. He started racing go-carts at 13.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just do what you know.

BLACKWELL: And then graduated to this at 15, before he was licensed to drive through his neighborhood.

TRISTAN NUNEZ, TEEN RACECAR DRIVER: My mom and myself actually feel safer driving on a race track with professional drivers than driving on the regular roads with people who have no idea what they are doing.

BLACKWELL: He revs up to above 150 miles per hour around this track.

(on camera): At that speed, there can be any little distraction.


BLACKWELL: It can be - and injury could be death.

NUNEZ: Fatal.

BLACKWELL (voice over): Actually, that can happen at any speed.

Before the start of the racing season, a little distraction off the track nearly created a major problem.

NUNEZ: I was with my mom in the car, and we almost got into accident because she was face booking, emailing, whatever. Distracted.

DIANE NUNEZ, MOTHER: We almost reared-ended somebody, and he, you know, that`s when we really - it really hit us, you know, and he is like, mom, you`ve got to put the phone down.

BLACKWELL: So Tristan and his mom, Diane Nunez had an idea: to inspire other people, especially young people to put the phone down, by branding his car the "don`t text and drive car."

DIANE NUNEZ: And we put all over the car, and put in on a suit and then put it on the Web site and just took off.

BLACKWELL (on camera): And you`ve got the bracelet because when they raise up there, their hand ...

NUNEZ: Their hand ...

BLACKWELL: ... with the phone.

NUNEZ: With the phone, they see it, exactly.


NUNEZ: So, I mean - it just serves as a constant reminder not to do it.

BLACKWELL (voice over): Hundreds of teens have pledged to not text and drive, some had even signed Tristan`s car as part of the pledge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just distracting. It`s - you get caught up in another world, completely separate from what you are trying to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is not really a lot of teenage race car drivers out there, so it was - it was definitely good for them to go on to a teenager`s car.

DIANE NUNEZ: I know we are not going to stop it, but at least it`s going to bring more awareness to people.

BLACKWELL: Tristan was the big winner on this day at Road Atlanta (ph).

NUNEZ: I would be here.

BLACKSTONE: And he tells teens to look up to him. The key to his success on the track is the same key to staying safe on the road.

NUNEZ: You have to have 100 percent focus, you can`t lose your focus for any - any reason at all.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for "Shoutout Extra Credit."

What game was invented by James Naismith? Here we go. Was it basketball, Monopoly, Mario Bros. or American football? Another three seconds on the clock and go.

While teaching phys. ed at a YMCA in 1891, James Naismith invented basketball. That`s your answer and that`s your Shoutout Extra Credit.


AZUZ: So James Naismith invented it, Michael Jordan mastered it, Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for the most point scored in a single NBA game. That`s 100. But as far as the most point scored in a college game- go, that record has stood at 113 sine 1954. At least until this sophomore dunked it. His name is Jack Taylor (ph). He goes to Grinell College in Iowa. He`s 5 feet 10, a shooting guard, and he recently had a game that was so amazing that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James tweeted about it. 138 points. That`s the new record. That`s what Taylor netted in a single game. CNN Soledad O`Brien spoke to him about it. How he managed to put up so many points and how that was unusual, even for someone as talented as Taylor.


SOLEDAD O`BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I guess, congratulations first are in order. You were averaging roughly 23 points per game before the big game. What do you think happened that day?

JACK TAYLOR, GRINELL COLLEGE BASKETBALL PLAYER: Yeah. I think it was - I think it was kind of once in a lifetime thing to happen. Coming into the game, I knew I was going to get more shots than usual. But I definitely hit more shots than I though that I would and at half time I had 58. My team and coaches kind of gathered around me and we were going to get me the ball every time down the floor. So, this record won`t be possible without my unselfish teammates.

O`BRIEN: You know, it`s interesting, because some people give me a little flack about the selfishness thing. Stuart Scott On ESPN said this: "Not a big fan of Jack Taylor`s 138-point in Grinell win. He took 108 shots, including 71 3`s. Just say that out loud. Now say "team"!

He`s basically insinuating that you were - were a ball hog, how do you respond to that?

TAYLOR: Yeah, I mean I definitely was a ball hog ...


TAYLOR: But my teammates kept getting me the ball. When I would pass it off to them, they were trying to get me the ball right back, because they knew I was hot.

And in the second half, we started going for the record when - when my shots were falling. So, it was a team effort to get me the ball, and they kept encouraging me to shoot, which only gave me more confidence.


AZUZ: You`d need more confidence to attempt a record like that. I don`t think I could score that much just shooting hoops on my own.

So, 138 points is 138 points, or is it?

There is no disputing what Taylor score, but as you just heard, some people do dispute whether he should be recognized for how he did it.

On out blog at CNNSTUDENTNEWS.COM we are talking about this. We`d love to hear your opinion on whether Taylor was a ball hog or a basketball star?

Please, on that blog, it`s first names only, please include only your first name.

Before we go, we`ve got some interesting images for you of Santas getting in shape. It`s the Santa Claus festival in Sydney, Australia where it`s actually summer now, so St. Nick could show off his lack of a tan. The run benefited children in need, it`s called a Claus for a Cause, and some, as you just saw, swapped the sleigh for skis. Fireworks tried to outshine the Rudolph, one Santa used a water jetpack to do that. Launching the rocket that smacked into and then lit up this massive Christmas Tree. You could say it was sheer Santamonium, an incomparable Santabration, a seriously Santalizing scheme to set the stage for the Christmas season. The advent of this puns can leave you in a holi-daze. So we are just going to wish you a merry Tuesday. Look forward to bringing more news down the chimney tomorrow. For CNN STUDENT NEWS, I`m Carl Azuz.