The Lima, Ohio-based institution is, after all, the title sponsor of the 41st UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment, assuring itself plenty of spoken, visual and written exposure throughout the half-mile oval’s mid-winter motorsports spectacular.
What’s more, the school that boasts the world’s first High Performance/Motorsports degree program will also be an active participant in the racing meet’s DIRTcar UMP Modified action, which runs nightly from Feb. 14-21. The UNOH logo will adorn the bodywork of nine UMP Modifieds, including four driven by nationally-known pavement stars and four prepared and steered by UNOH students.
UNOH’s UMP Modified assault on Volusia will feature NASCAR veterans Kenny Wallace and Ken Schrader as well as the fast-rising Dillon brothers, Austin (2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion) and Ty (2011 ARCA Racing Series titlist). Each driver will compete in the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit in UMP Modifieds sponsored by UNOH.
“This is going to be the busiest Speedweeks we’ve ever had,” said UNOH Vice President of Development Steve Farmer. “It’s always a lot of work to get ready for Volusia, and this year our hands are full even more. We’re the title sponsor of the DIRTcar Nationals for the first time, plus we’re sponsoring the All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car series (which runs at Volusia on Feb. 15-16), we’re having our first UNOH Career in Motorsports Expo (on Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway) and we’re sponsoring Ty Dillon in the NASCAR Truck Series at Daytona.”
The year marks UNOH’s fifth consecutive year as a backer of Volusia’s annual dirt-track racing extravaganza. Previously a presenting sponsor, the school has increased its participation in 2012 – a clear signal of the significance the event holds for the Buckeye State university.
“Our involvement with the World Racing Group, the DIRTcar Nationals and the World of Outlaws has been very, very successful,” said Farmer. “It’s really enhanced the presence UNOH has in the industry as well as in motorsports and it provides us a great grassroots platform to recruit students and show them what the University of Northwestern Ohio has to offer.”
A private, not-for-profit school that launched its High Performance/Motorsports degree program in 1991, UNOH uses the DIRTcar Nationals to cap a unique extra-curricular activity that provides its budding mechanical minds true real-world training. Five years ago the university enhanced the motorsports program’s curriculum by launching a fully-sponsored, in-house UMP Modified team – a unique after-school pursuit in which a select group of students builds and maintains UMP Modifieds and races them in the weekly events at nearby Limaland Motorsports Park, which is owned and operated by UNOH. The trip to Florida for the DIRTcar Nationals serves as the culmination of the 2011-2012 racing season for the UNOH motorsports team, which is housed in a shop on the university’s 189-acre campus.
The UNOH UMP Modified team will invade Volusia with 32 students, all of whom receive scholarships in the same manner as student-athletes at other schools. More than 180 High Performance/Motorsports program students participated in try-outs for the select number of positions on the team; all the team members are transported to Florida each February to end their year-long stints with a busy week of activity servicing the UMP Modifieds.
UNOH’s army of student mechanics at Volusia will include Kody Weisner of Muskegon, Mich., Chris Puskas of Somerset, N.J., Travis Fleshman of West Union, Ohio, and Josh Ulrich of Gettysburg, Pa. – a quartet that will not only work on the University-built UMP Modifieds, but drive them as well. The balance of the team members will crew the UNOH-prepared cars, but Wallace, Schrader, the Dillon brothers (the grandsons of famed NASCAR team owner Richard Childress) and reigning Limaland Speedway UMP Modified champion Todd Sherman of Churubusco, Ind., who will enter the ninth UNOH-affiliated car, will also have students assigned to assist their efforts.
The four highest-profile UNOH drivers are not only well known on the national scene, but also accomplished in UMP Modified action at Volusia. Schrader is a former UMP Modified points champion of the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit (he won it in 2008), while Wallace and the Dillon brothers have each reached Victory Lane in UMP Modified competition over the past five years. Last year the Dillon boys and Schrader swept the Triple 25s program that closed out the UMP Modified portion of the DIRTcar Nationals, and last year’s marquee UMP Modified event, the ‘Gator Championship,’ was captured by Ty Dillon.
The UMP Modified schedule during the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit features $1,000-to-win A-Mains on Feb. Feb. 14, 15, 16 and 17; a pair of $700-to-win preliminary events on Feb. 18 and 19 leading into the headline ‘Gator’ championship race paying $5,000 to win on Feb. 20; and a multiple-features-only finale ($700 to win each) on Feb. 21.
Accenting UNOH’s activity at Volusia, the school will have a healthy presence at Daytona International Speedway, which sits less than a half-hour drive from Volusia. The school is sponsoring Ty Dillon’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series machine, and 34 UNOH High Performance Motorsports student “interns” will be in the Daytona pit area assisting ARCA teams as part of a work arrangement with the series. In addition, the inaugural UNOH Career in Motorsports Expo on Feb. 18 at Daytona will give area students who have expressed interest in UNOH an opportunity to hear several guest speakers from the motorsports industry, including Childress.
Throughout the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit, UNOH representatives will be available in Volusia’s midway area to promote the school’s Motorsports programs.
“The University draws students from all 50 states and 16 foreign countries, and in the last few years we have had an influx of students interested in our High Performance/Motorsports Programs from the state of Florida,” said UNOH President Dr. Jeffrey A. Jarvis. “By building and racing vehicles in Florida that will be driven and crewed by UNOH High Performance Motorsports students, the University hopes to continue to encourage both interested prospective students and local Florida high school instructors to check out everything that UNOH has to offer them.”
Founded in 1920, the University of Northwestern Ohio is comprised of the College of Business, College of Technologies and College of Distance Learning. UNOH offers over 60 programs in High Performance, Alternate Fuels, Diesel, Automotive, HVAC, Agricultural, Business, Marketing, Medical, Legal, Travel, IT Computer and Sport Marketing and Management with Associate degrees, Baccalaureate degrees and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
For more detailed information about the University of Northwestern Ohio, visit www.unoh.edu.
The UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit is a 12-night short-track blockbuster that features nightly doubleheaders. Joining the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds on the busy schedule will be the UMP Late Models (30-lap A-Mains paying $7,000 to win on Feb. 20, 21 and 22 and a 40-lap, $10,000-to-win finale on Feb. 24); the World of Outlaws Late Model Series (50-lap A-Mains for $10,000 to win on Feb. 23 and 25); the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series (Feb. 17-19); the UNOH All-Star Sprint Car Series (Feb. 15-16); and the Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds (Feb. 22-25).
For more information on the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit – including special pricing on advance-sale tickets and details of the ‘Free Pit Pass With Every Ticket’ offer that allows fans to get up-close-and-personal with the race teams every night of the DCN – visit www.DIRTcarNationals.com or call 704-795-7223, 386-985-4402 or 877-395-8606 (ticket hotline).
More info on DIRTcar Racing can be obtained by logging on to www.DIRTcar.com.