East Tennessee State, BMS form alliance

By Wes Holtsclaw

   JOHNSON CITY -- East Tennessee State University is ready to start its engines.
   With Bristol Motor Speedway in the area, the university has taken the next steps to recognize motorsports on a national level.
   During a Tuesday press conference outside the school's Sherrod Library, the university announced its decision to join forces with BMS in the creation of a Motorsports Operations academic curriculum.
   "We are developing a Motorsports Operations program," said ETSU President Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr. "It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and people are wanting to learn how to manage and participate in it.
   "This is a way to combine the best of ETSU with the best of BMS, and we look forward to helping our students 'start their engines' this fall semester."
   The university is hoping to attract students from all across the country in it's new curriculum, which will be included in the Sport and Leisure Management major in the Department of Phusical Education, Exercise and Sport Sciences.
   Students interested in Motorsports Operations at the undergraduate level may enroll in classes including Facilities planning and events management, Marketing strategies and public relations, Legal issues and risk management, Management of sport and leisure activities, Fund-raising for sports and an internship.
   Each of those courses will include units on Motorsports. There will also be a graduate program that will feature many of the same things.
   The university unveiled its new logo which will grace the official BMS pace car.
   Bristol Motor Speedway general manager Jeff Byrd has been working with Dr. Tom Coates, who is the mastermind behind the new academic offering.
   "We've been partners (with ETSU) since (Bristol Motor Speedway) arrived eight years ago," said Byrd. "We've had many ETSU graduates who now work in different departments at BMS. ETSU students fare very well in motorsports."
   Several ETSU alumni are working at Bristol Motor Speedway, as well as the Motor Racing Network, Daytona International Speedway, Morgan-McClure Racing, Penske South, NASCAR Winston Cup Scene, Winston Cup Vision, Roush Racing and NASCAR itself.
   Other alumni are also with ESPN, Race-Scan Communications, PPC Racing and Sports Marketing Enterprises.
   Byrd noted the growth of NASCAR since his arrival in the business.
   "When I first got into the business, NASCAR only had 15 to 20 on its payroll, now it has over 800," Byrd said. "The growth indicates what has happened in the industry. ETSU looks to be the choice when people look towards a career in motorsports."
   Coates said that he wanted to find something to get the University and BMS more involved with each other.
   "ETSU students will be able to work with BMS through such endeavors as practical internships and involvement with special events," said Coates.
   "Bristol Motor Speedway is instantly recognizable to people because of its reputation in the sporting arena as 'the world's fastest half mile' and 'NASCAR's toughest ticket,'" he said.
   "It has also earned the title of the race fan's most popular speedway with all of its 160,000 sold-out seats, so it has very strong name recognition. We are extremely pleased to partner with BMS and offer this operations management program opportunity to our students."
   For more information on the ETSU/BMS Motorsports Operations program, contact Dr. Tom Coates at (423) 439-5261.