By Cheryl Petersen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star
---- — A Walton Central School junior is headed to Watkins Glen this summer after he accepted an online dare from NASCAR driver Austin Dillon.
On Feb. 26, Eric Webler of Walton checked his YouTube subscription list on his cellphone during the lunch hour. He noticed on the RCR Racing channel that Dillon has posted a challenge to his fans.
“Is everyone up for my #ALLin Challenge of the week? I’m going to make a new one every Wednesday. This week’s #ALLin Challenge: Hug until it gets awkward,” Dillon wrote.
Contestants were dared to submit videos to Dillon using the hashtag #ALLin.
“The winner would receive two tickets to a Sprint Cup Series (race),” Webler said. “I thought, I’m taking this challenge on.”
With a few quick swipes and touches, Webler’s phone became a video camera, and Webler’s girlfriend, Natali Cobb, became the videographer.
In the video, Webler explains, “Austin, I’ll take on this challenge. Me hugging someone until awkward, let’s do this. Please note, I’ll be hugging teachers and friends and people I see walking down the school hallways.”
Webler pieced together his entry during breaks between classes. He is seen hugging his math teacher, who eventually admits puzzlement as the hug continues.
“I didn’t explain to anyone it was a challenge,” said Webler.
Webler approached a couple of young ladies talking, and begins hugging one of them. As the hug lingers, the young woman’s face changes from a look of “Isn’t that nice?” to a perplexed look, and then finally submission as she joined in the hug.
At one point, the camera changes hands from Cobb to Webler’s friend Robert Phraner.
“Natali had to go to lunch,” Webler explained.
“We were near the school office,” said Webler. “And, my mom, who works in the office, walked out the door, so I hugged her.”
“It was okay for a minute, but he didn’t quit hugging me, and I wondered, what are you doing?” said Denise Webler. “He didn’t tell any of us what was going on.”
After school, Webler found some music he liked, and requested and received permission to use it on the video. Using video editing software, Webler created his video and uploaded it to his Youtube channel, Webzic.
Webler posted, “Alright Austin, I did it! Hope I can win! Huge racing fan, I’m lucky if I can go to one race this year! Please make it official! Had fun making this though! Hope everyone enjoys it!”
“Then I sent a tweet to @AustinDillion3, with a link to my video,” said Webler.
Soon afterward, Webler received a few tweets from Dillon, and later found out his video was chosen as the winner. He received two tickets to the see a NASCAR race at Watkins Glen.
Eric said he and his father, Tory Webler, have been NASCAR fans for years.
“We love it,” said Eric Webler, who also writes and answers questions on a website started by a friend, www.racingexperts.com
“Mom took me to a dirt race once,” said Eric Webler. “We got pit passes and walked in and there was NASCAR champion Tony Stewart. We talked, and he let Mom take a picture of us together. It was great.”