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Race car drivers visit sponsor’s Jackson County HQ

Parkerburg News and Sentinel photo by Brett Dunlap Racecar driver Christian Fittipaldi signs the shirt of Andrew Stutler, of Ravenswood, during a gathering at Mustang Sampling near Ravenswood on Tuesday.
Parkerburg News and Sentinel photo by Brett Dunlap
Racecar driver Christian Fittipaldi signs the shirt of Andrew Stutler, of Ravenswood, during a gathering at Mustang Sampling near Ravenswood on Tuesday.

RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. — Employees and others at a Ravenswood company got a chance to meet the race team the company sponsors and talk with the drivers Tuesday during a special event at the company’s headquarters.

Employees of Mustang Sampling and Valtronics Sales/Valtronics Solutions, along with a number of clients and vendors, gathered Tuesday at the company’s facility along West Virginia 68 outside of Ravenswood for a series of technical sessions on analytically accurate sampling systems, gas chromatograph overview, USM and Sr. orifice fitting overview, gas quality measurement with TDL analyzers and more.

Between sessions and during a catered lunch, employees and their families got the chance to look at the Action Express Mustang Sampling No. 5 Corvette racecar Mustang Sampling sponsors and meet and talk with its drivers, Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi. They have been a championship team for the last two years in the WeatherTech SportsCar Series, organizers said.

Barbosa and Fittipaldi signed autographs, posed for pictures with attendees and their families, talked about their car, racing and more.

This was the second time the company has scheduled such an event and officials are hoping to make it an annual event, said Kenneth Thompson, company president and owner.

“We want everyone to have a good time,” Thompson said. “It is an appreciation to our clients and employees who support us so we can sponsor this racing team.

“We have always tried to give back to our customers because they have been really good to us. We have been in business for almost 32 years.”

The company primary does business in the natural gas industry. It builds equipment for all the product plants that are either bringing gas out of the ground or measuring the amount of gas and its quality. The company deals with all types of natural gas processing plants and those who prepare the gas to ship to other countries.

Mustang Sampling also does work in the mining industries, power, wastewater treatment plants, water treatment plants, chemical plants and others.

“We cover all industries out here,” Thompson said.

The company employs around 75 people.

Tuesday’s event included many companies who supply Mustang Sampling with products, such as valves, instrumentation, steel, metal and more.

“We brought them in not only to show us their products and they have been nice enough to come in and do some training classes with us,” Thompson said. “We have 12 training classes going on.

“We are giving people training that otherwise their corporations would have had to pay to send them somewhere to get that training which is rather expensive. This is our way of giving back to our customers.”

Fittipaldi said it was nice to be able to come to the company Tuesday and interact with all of the people who help make the company a success. The company’s sponsorship is important to the team.

“To have the car here and both drivers here for the Mustang family, it is a good day for all of us,” he said. “I am very excited to be a part of this operation.”

The car weighs 2,250 pounds and has around 600 horsepower. The drivers usually are in races with over 40 other cars on street courses and racetracks.

Fittipaldi enjoys racing for a number of reasons, including being able to run a car to its absolute limits. He enjoys working with the engineering aspects of it in trying to make the car go quicker, shaving off a tenth of a second which can make the difference between winning and losing.

“It is the challenge of the competition,” Fittipaldi said.

The racers are in a 10-race championship season with two more races to go in Austin, Texas, and Braselton, Ga.

Barbosa commended Thompson and the company’s sponsorship of their team.

“This was a great opportunity to see what is done at Mustang Sampling and what it is all about,” he said. “This is my first time here and my first time in West Virginia.

“We had the chance to stop by and see all of the people who make everything happen at Mustang Sampling.”

Barbosa said racing is a big team sport.

“It is all about speed,” he said. “I like going fast.”

He too likes working with the engineers on getting more speed out of the car. The car has reached 196-198 mph. Barbosa feels they could go faster if they had a longer straightaway.

“I am happy to be here and I am having a good time,” he said.

The race team has just come off of a race Sunday in Elkhart Lake, Wis., with the car and its drivers finishing second in the race.

“We wanted to bring the car back here for all of our fans, our clients and our employees,” Thompson said. “This is becoming an annual day where we can share all of the excitement this car brings to our company and the exposure it brings to our company.”

The car was brought directly from the race and had not been cleaned up yet. Company officials wanted to show their people all that the car goes through in a race.

“We are hoping people see there is a world class racing team being sponsored by the employees who work at this company,” Thompson said.

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