UNOH’s UMP Modified Team Includes NASCAR’s Kenny Wallace, David Reutimann & Dillon Brothers, Students From Buckeye State School
BARBERVILLE, FL – Feb. 5, 2011 – The University of Northwestern Ohio is more than just the presenting sponsor of the 40th DIRTcar Nationals that runs from Feb. 8-19 at Volusia Speedway Park.
The Lima, Ohio-based institution is also a major participant in the mid-winter motorsports extravaganza held about a half-hour outside Daytona Beach.
Sponsorship of the DIRTcar Nationals goes hand-in-hand with competition for the university, which will have its distinctive UNOH logo on the bodywork of eight DIRTcar UMP Modifieds during the open-wheel division’s portion of the racing meet (Feb. 8-15). Highlighting the UNOH drivers’ roster will be nationally-known NASCAR racers Kenny Wallace and David Reutimann as well as up-and-coming brothers Austin and Ty Dillon, the grandsons of longtime team owner Richard Childress.
A private, not-for-profit school that offers the world’s only High Performance/Motorsports degree program, UNOH uses the DIRTcar Nationals to cap a unique extra-curricular activity that provides its budding mechanical minds true real-world training. Four years ago the university enhanced the motorsports program’s curriculum by launching a fully-sponsored, in-house UMP Modified team – basically, an 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 2010-2011 racing season for the UNOH motorsports team, which is housed in a shop on the university’s 189-acre campus.
UNOH’s UMP Modified team includes 36 students, all of whom receive scholarships in the same manner as basketball and football student-athletes at other schools. High Performance/Motorsports program students are selected for various positions on the team through annual try-outs; all the team members are transported to Volusia each February to end their year-long stints with a busy week of activity servicing the UMP Modifieds.
“The dirt-track program has been a phenomenal success for us,” said UNOH Vice President of Development Steve Farmer, who will accompany the school’s students to the Sunshine State. “A grassroots program like this gives us a great platform to recruit students and show them what the University of Northwestern Ohio has to offer.
“When (UNOH President) Dr. (Jeffrey A.) Jarvis started this motorsports program and began offering scholarships, a lot of people looked at it like, ‘Wow, is this gonna work?’ Well, we had 186 kids try out for 36 positions on this year’s team. It’s exciting to see the student body so interested in this.
“From a national standpoint, this program has given our school credibility that’s second to none,” he added. “It’s great for the university, it’s great for the students – and hopefully it’s fun for the fans to see a bunch of students working on and racing cars. We’re hoping the program keeps growing for years to come.”
UNOH’s army of wrench-twisters at Volusia will include Chris Puskas of Somerset, N.J., Andrew Strait of Traverse City, Mich., and Kody Weisner of Muskegon, Mich. – a trio that will not only work on the University-built UMP Modifieds, but drive them as well. Two more cars from the UNOH shop will be in Volusia’s pit area – one that’s scheduled to be driven on selected nights by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standout David Reutimann, and a fifth machine that will serve as a team backup but might see some action with former Limaland Motorsports Park champion Terry Hull of Columbia City, Ind., behind the wheel. Reutimann – the son of DIRTcar Big-Block Modified legend Buzzie Reutimann and himself a regular on the upstate New York DIRTcar 358-Modified circuit for a brief period in the ‘90s – hopes to make at least a couple starts at Volusia in between his commitments with Michael Waltrip Racing at Daytona International Speedway.
Four additional UMP Modifieds will carry sponsorship from UNOH, led by the No. 36 that will be driven throughout the DIRTcar Nationals by popular NASCAR Nationwide Series regular and SPEED television commentator Kenny Wallace. A 2007 UMP Modified feature winner at Volusia, Wallace will sport backing from UNOH in all his dirt-track appearances this season and three of his Nationwide Series starts with RAB Motorsports, including the Nationwide event on Feb. 19 at Daytona.
The budding-star Dillon brothers – 20-year-old Austin, who drives the RCR No. 3 on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and 18-year-old Ty, who will chase the ARCA Racing Series title this season after breaking into Victory Lane on the venerable stock-car tour last year – will also sport UNOH sponsorship on their Team Dillon UMP Modifieds for the duration of the DIRTcar Nationals. Austin Dillon fell just 11 points short of the 2010 DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH championship in the UMP Modified class, finishing second to Dave Hess Jr. of Waterford, Pa.
Rounding out the UNOH assault on Volusia will be former Limaland champ Todd Sherman of Churubusco, Ind., who will enter his own No. 65 in the week’s action.
Accenting UNOH’s activity at Volusia, the school will have a healthy presence at Daytona International Speedway. UNOH will sponsor Wallace’s Nationwide Series effort (four UNOH High Performance Motorsports students will work alongside Wallace’s crew for the event) and the RCR Chevy that Ty Dillon will drive in the ARCA Slick Mist 200 on Feb. 12. In addition, 32 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.
The UMP Modified action during the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH features $1,000-to-win A-Mains on Feb. Feb. 8, 9, 10 and 11; a pair of $700-to-win preliminary events on Feb. 12 and 13 leading into the headline ‘Gator’ championship race paying $5,000 to win on Feb. 14; and a multiple-features-only finale on Feb. 15.
Throughout the DIRTcar Nationals, UNOH representatives will be available in the track’s midway area to promote the school’s Motorsports programs – a proven marketing tool for UNOH.
“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 DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH is a 12-night short-track blockbuster that also includes the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series (Feb. 11-13); the World of Outlaws Late Model Series (Feb. 17 and 19); the O’Reilly All-Star Sprint Car Series (Feb. 9-10); DIRTcar UMP Late Models (Feb. 14, 15, 16 and 18); and the Super DIRTcar Series for big-block Modifieds (Feb. 16-19).
For more information on the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH – 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 or 386-985-4402.
More info on DIRTcar Racing can be obtained by logging on to www.DIRTcar.com.