Press Release - 06-17-2021

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Friday, June 17, 2021



Contest Runs Through August 15

Chastain to Also Meet with Fans August 5 and 6 Before Racing at Watkins Glen International

Chastain’s No. 45 Niece Motorsports Race Truck to Promote GTSC’s ‘Protect Your Melon’ Seat Belt Safety Campaign


The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) is giving New Yorkers a chance to win a virtual meet-and-greet with NASCAR driver Ross Chastain—a long-time seat belt advocate and partner of GTSC. Cutouts featuring Chastain’s image and a contest QR code are now located in 100 Tops Stores in the Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier and Western New York regions. Fans who scan the code will be entered to win a personal, one-on-one interview with Ross. The contest runs through 5 p.m. on August 15. Two winners will be selected at that time, and separate Zoom sessions with Chastain will be conducted on August 18.

“Ross Chastain is not only a fantastic driver, he is a wonderful advocate for driver safety and the importance of seat belts,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and GTSC Chair. “Ross is also someone who young people admire and look up to, so we are proud to be able to give New Yorkers this chance to sit down and get to know Ross and why he is so passionate about this important safety topic. It is a simple fact—seat belts save lives.”

“I take a lot of pride in representing the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and promoting seat belt usage in New York,” Ross said. “From growing up on a farm to now racing at 200 mph, safety is key, and sometimes people need a simple reminder to buckle up. I am looking forward to visiting the Watkins Glen area before the race to remind people to buckle up and promoting the “Protect Your Melon” message with Niece Motorsports.”

Niece Motorsports GM, Cody Efaw said, “We always look forward to having Ross behind the wheel of our Niece Motorsports trucks, and Watkins Glen will be no different. Partnering with the GTSC to promote seat belt usage is a great way for us to positively impact the community around the ‘Protect Your Melon’ messaging.”

About the Contest

When customers scan the QR code, they will be connected to an online form to enter the contest. Each entry will be assigned a number, and two winners will be randomly selected at the close of business on August 15. Winners will be notified via email or phone based on the information provided on their entry form. The first 1,000 entries will receive a Ross Chastain-autographed Hero Card. 

Meeting Fans and Racing at Watkins Glens International

An eighth-generation watermelon farmer, Ross will sport the Protect Your Melon logo on his uniform and No. 45 Niece Motorsports race truck while competing during this year’s Go Bowling at the Glen race weekend at Watkins Glen International from August 6th through 8th. Prior to racing, he will bring his race truck and meet with fans near the entrance to Watkins Glen State Park on the morning of August 5. Later that afternoon, Chastain will be at the Watkins Glen Village square to sign autographs. The rain location for Chastain’s Village Square appearance is the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce building.

He will also make an appearance at the Department of Motor Vehicles booth on Friday morning, August 6 to meet with fans and sign autographs. Times for the appearances are to be determined.

Earlier this year, the NASCAR driver spoke to students at Fort Edward and Lake George schools about the importance of wearing seat belts. He engaged young people in the GTSC’s Battle of the Belts competition, where competitors quickly move from seat to seat in a vehicle to see how fast they can buckle up. The activity is a fun way to demonstrate that it only takes a second or two to buckle a seat belt.

Protecting New Yorkers

New York was the first state in the nation to pass a seat belt law, and last year, the seat belt law was strengthened to require everyone in passenger vehicles, regardless of where they sit, to wear a seat belt or be properly restrained in a child safety seat.

Most New Yorkers do a great job wearing their seat belts and New York’s seat belt compliance rate consistently tops the national average. In the most recent survey, 94 percent of front seat drivers and passengers in the state were wearing their seat belts. But that means there are still hundreds of thousands of drivers who do not do it consistently. GTSC Protect Your Melon and Buckle Up New York Campaigns aim to educate New Yorkers about the significant role seatbelts have in preventing injuries and deaths in crashes.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, if you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45 percent. People who aren’t wearing seat belts are also 5 times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury.

For more information about traffic safety in New York State, visit the GTSC website at, or follow the GTSC on Facebook and Twitter.