NASCAR star Biffle drives go-carts with Menomonie workers after they win contest
MENOMONIE, Jan 17, 2013 (The Leader-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
NASCAR driver Greg Biffle hopped behind the wheel of a fuel cell, hydrogen-powered go-cart Wednesday at the 3M plant in Menomonie and carved out a win on an indoor course against about 40 company employees.
That Biffle won the event was to be expected, given his status as one of NASCAR's top drivers. His time on the near 50-yard indoor course was 42.85 seconds.
"It's a lot of fun," Biffle said of visiting the plant. "I've never been to this 3M facility. It's pretty exciting to see the technology and the gadgets."
Biffle drives the No. 16 Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing in the Sprint Cup series. In 2012 he finished fifth in the series, racking up nearly $5.6 million in winnings.
Employees at the Menomonie plant won a visit from Biffle as part of a company video contest about why Biffle should come to the plant for a day. Members of the fuel cell components program at 3M in Menomonie submitted a video showcasing hydrogen fuel cell technology that is used to power the go-cart, using hydrogen and oxygen to make electricity that drives the powertrain of the vehicle without emissions. During his visit to 3M, Biffle worked with the fuel cell products the company produces.
Employees donated $10 each to race against Biffle, with proceeds going to the Dunn County Humane Society. Biffle also sold a calendar with NASCAR drivers and their pets to raise money for the Greg Biffle Foundation, which raises money for animal shelters and to support spay and neutering programs.
Menomonie resident Cindi Wiese, a designer trainer at 3M, spearheaded the effort to encourage Menomonie plant employees to vote for the locally made video.
"We're a big NASCAR family," she said "I've been a NASCAR fan for many years. I've been a big fan of Greg Biffle for the last four or five years."
Wiese said she appreciates Biffle's foundation because it helps animals. She also is a Biffle fan because he drives a 3M-sponsored car.
"It's exciting," she said of having Biffle visit.
Corey Niven of Colfax, a supply chain analyst at 3M, raced the go-cart.
"It's pretty cool that Greg, a national sports figure, would take a day out of busy schedule and come here," Niven said.
Corey Balts of Eau Claire, an engineering supervisor at 3M, came in second in the race with Biffle and the other employees.
Balts was awarded an autographed model of Biffle's car.
"It's fun to get away from the daily routine," he said. "It's a good team building event, and it's for a good cause."
Powers can be reached at 715-556-9018 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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