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Lottery Educational Cup Challenge: 'Teacher of the Year' leaves governor in the dust in school bus race

Union Leader Correspondent

August 06. 2017 8:03PM
Above, Gov. Chris Sununu had both hands on the wheel as he prepared to race in Saturday's New Hampshire Lottery Educational Cup Challenge at New England Dragway. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

EPPING — Gov. Chris Sununu knows how to win a political race, but he got smoked by the competition when he climbed into the driver’s seat to drag race in a school bus.

In his first time on the drag strip, Sununu lost to New Hampshire’s 2017 “Teacher of the Year” Tate Aldrich in the final round of Saturday’s 2nd annual New Hampshire Lottery Educational Cup Challenge.

The unusual race held at New England Dragway featured mini school buses jetting down the drag strip in a friendly competition to raise awareness of the $1.7 billion the New Hampshire Lottery has contributed to education in the state.

Aldrich claimed victory after crossing the finish line with a time of 19.293 seconds. He beat the governor’s 20.178-second finish.

The win came as a surprise to Aldrich, an English teacher from Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro who’s never raced a vehicle and never thought his “Teacher of the Year” title would put him behind the wheel in a bus race.

He wasn’t sure how fast he drove to win. He just gunned it and never looked at the speedometer.

“I’m totally out of my element, but I guess that’s when learning happens,” said Aldrich, who taught at Laconia High School for several years before joining Kingswood for the upcoming school year.

The first round of competition featured Aldrich against reigning champion Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery, and Sununu versus Scott “Roadkill” McMullen from WHEB and Rock 101’s “Greg and the Morning Buzz.”

Aldrich beat McIntyre and Sununu squashed McMullen.

With his trophy in hand, New Hampshire "Teacher of the Year" Tate Aldrich addresses the crowd after beating Gov. Chris Sununu in Saturday's New Hampshire Lottery Educational Cup Challenge. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

Sununu hoped his time practicing with his 2007 mini van in his driveway before the race would pay off when he and Aldrich were sent to the championship round, but things didn’t go as planned.

“I thought that was probably the closest thing to driving a school bus I could get, and the speed was about the same as well,” Sununu said of his van practice.

Sununu was thrilled to join the race in the buses provided by Seacoast Learning Collaborative and immediately jumped on board when he was asked.

“I thought they were kidding. … I figured there was no way they were actually going to let me do this. When I found out it was true I was so excited,” Sununu said.

Winning on the drag strip really didn’t matter to Sununu. What was more important, he said, was the money that the New Hampshire Lottery has invested in education.

New Hampshire Lottery has recorded almost $6 billion in lottery sales and other earnings over the past 51 years, with more than $3.8 billion being paid in prizes and other cost of sales. Net proceeds to education have totalled more than $1.7 billion to date.

“So many of our lottery dollars go into education. They fund so many of the great programs that we have,” Sununu said.

The first New Hampshire Lottery Educational Cup Challenge was held last year as a way to promote the lottery and its contributions.

“We’re always looking for fun and creative ways to promote the product and promote our relationship to education. This is really kind of a unique, fun thing to do,” said McIntyre, whose speeds of 70-plus mph in his bus didn’t quite pay off this year.

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