Arshot Investment Corporation has announced that Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) will partner with the company on its redevelopment of the Cooper Stadium site in Columbus, Ohio. Members of the NASCAR team, led by two-time Daytona 500 champion and broadcast analyst Michael Waltrip, will serve as public ambassadors of the Sports Pavilion & Automotive Research Complex, or SPARC.
SPARC will feature a paved half-mile track, with preserved grandstand seating, and will be anchored by an automotive research and technical training center. MWR will consult with Arshot on design and operation of the track and will make use of SPARC facilities for testing team cars and conducting various team events.
“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to participate in the SPARC project,” Waltrip said. “Michael Waltrip Racing prides itself on being innovative and forward-thinking, which is why we were so attracted to the SPARC concept when first approached by Arshot. We think its unique combination of uses — particularly its emphasis on automotive research — is perfect for the site and makes it unlike any other track facility in the nation.”
Waltrip also indicated SPARC’s location in Columbus was important to MWR. “Being located in the heart of Ohio, a market largely untapped by NASCAR, will provide MWR and its sponsors with high-impact exposure to millions of current and new racing fans,” Waltrip said. “We can’t think of a better way to cap the most successful season in our team’s history.”
MWR recently completed its sixth full year of NASCAR Sprint Cup competition. The team is comprised of Clint Bowyer’s No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota, Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, and the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota (driven by Mark Martin, Brian Vickers and Waltrip). In 2012, both Bowyer and Truex were one of twelve drivers who earned a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, with Bowyer eventually finishing second in overall points. Meanwhile, the entire team was featured in the Speed Channel’s two-part series “Inside Michael Waltrip Racing: A Championship Quest.”
Bill Schottenstein, a principal of Arshot, echoed Waltrip’s enthusiasm for the partnership. “Michael Waltrip and his team are an ideal fit for SPARC,” Schottenstein said. “They have a genuine appreciation for our vision of creating a vibrant community of automotive researchers, retailers and enthusiasts.”
Schottenstein has indicated during the planning process that SPARC would become not only a Midwest leader, but a national mecca for automotive research and sports entertainment.
“Our recent announcement of Midwestern Auto Group’s involvement in the project was an all-important first step toward achievement of our vision,” Schottenstein said. “With the addition of MWR, however, the project takes on true national significance. NASCAR fans everywhere will view Columbus, Ohio as the second home of Michael Waltrip Racing. We are elated to have them as a partner.”
Waltrip and Schottenstein also agree on the transformational effect SPARC is expected to have on neighborhoods surrounding the Cooper Stadium site. “One of the things that most excites us about the project is the potential to bring economic development to some areas of the community that can use a jumpstart,” stated Waltrip. “I’ve toured these neighborhoods with Bill and his team, and I share their belief that SPARC will help to revitalize the area. I was also impressed by the commitments Arshot has made to the folks who live there.”
Arshot entered into a Good Neighbor Agreement during the project planning process which provides for establishment of a charitable foundation to be funded from ticket sales at the new venue. The primary purpose of the foundation will be to provide academic scholarships, vocational training and other educational opportunities to residents of the Southwest and Franklinton Areas of Columbus. Under the agreement, qualified residents and businesses will also be given first consideration for purposes of hiring employees and purchasing materials and services.
“Having Michael Waltrip Racing as a partner, with the benefit of Michael’s expertise, resources and national audience, will contribute greatly toward the project’s success,” Schottenstein said. “Most importantly, however, is the fact that our success will contribute directly to the success of the surrounding area.”
Automotive research & technology is widely seen by city leaders as a vehicle to continue to grow Columbus’ economy. “Ohio is already a leader in the automotive manufacturing industry,” said Columbus Council President Andrew J. Ginther. “Soon, with the help of SPARC and MWR, Columbus will be leading the country in automotive research and technology – and benefiting from the high paying jobs associated with this growing sector of the industry.”
Linda Logan, executive director of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission said, “Columbus is proud to make Michael Waltrip Racing a part of our growing sports community. Arshot’s vision for SPARC has great momentum, and we look forward to continuing to work with Bill Schottenstein and his team to bring more sports offerings to Columbus.”