On Track WinnersThe Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the second year of the On Track motorsports initiative with the awarding of the Holley-GM Dominator Cup to the Warren County Area Technology Center, winner of the of the On Track Grudge Match for the second year in a row.

Thanks to a generous donation from the National Corvette Museum, the Warren County Area Technology Center this year rebuilt a 1980 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe. The donation marks the initiation of a new partnership with the National Corvette Museum and highlights the importance of the region’s connection to America’s sports car and manufacturing giant General Motors.  The Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKYCTC) was also fortunate enough to be the recipient of a generous donation for their entry – a 1994 Chevrolet Camaro donated by the late Ken Stirn of Scottsville.

The schools once again competed in the Holley LS Fest – the largest on record with 24,000 spectators – in addition to competing on design and engineering and the development of marketing and business plans. The cars will now tour local middle schools as part of a curriculum designed by WKU SkyTeach. The cars will be used to help complete a hands-on demonstration of the principles of acceleration, as way to interest students in the STEM disciplines.Over 800 students were reached during year 1 of the middle school experiments, and more are expected to take part this year. In the spring, the cars will once again be sold at the nationally televised Mecum Auto Auction and all proceeds will be returned to the program to benefit future teams.

In 2015, the Chamber launched the On Track motorsports education initiative, in partnership with the Warren County Area Technology Center, Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College, Western Kentucky University, Holley Performance Products, and General Motors as a way to incorporate multiple educational disciplines including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and advanced manufacturing principles to promote the growth of talent in the South Central Kentucky region. During the process, classes worked closely with industry experts and faculty on the development of the cars as well as the curriculum, and reached over 1,000 students in just the first year of operation. In September of 2016, the cars competed in the Holley LSFest Grand Champion competition with the Warren County Area Technology Center claiming the inaugural Holley – General Motors Dominator trophy and SKYCTC picking up a prestigious President’s Pick award in the show category. In May of this year, the cars were sold at the nationally televised Mecum Indianapolis Auction, raising $74,000 to return to the program.

Thanks to a grant from the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) organization, the 2017 competition additionally focused on increasing performance through lightweighting and other advanced techniques. Similarly, the students were introduced to careers in advanced and lightweight metals manufacturing, both high demand business sectors in South Central Kentucky.

As the program continues to grow, the Chamber plans to cement the program’s curriculum into a nationally portable model and expand the competition to other schools in the South Central Kentucky region by year 3.

According to Eric Keeling, principal of the Warren County Area Technology Center, “The On Track program has been a great addition to our programs here at the ATC. Our students are gaining real world knowledge and experience while getting to work on a really cool project. We are proud to once again take home the Dominator trophy!”

“It is amazing to see how in just one year of the program, that On-Track has garnered national attention.  It is very exciting for the students to know that they are a part of something extremely special and ground breaking,” said Chris Cumens, Vice President of Finance and Administration at SKYCTC.

The On Track initiative is a crucial piece of the Chamber’s commitment to the development of talent for the future workforce of South Central Kentucky. According to the Chamber’s monthly Open Positions Report, there are currently 5,200 open positions in the South Central Kentucky region. In 5 years, that number grows to 22,500 and within 10 years, that number more than doubles to 45,800. The On Track initiative introduces STEM concepts in a practical setting and emphasizes a career sector that will see high growth in the coming decade.

According to Chamber President and CEO Ron Bunch, “The On Track initiative plays an important role in workforce development in South Central Kentucky.  Through this initiative, students not only learn valuable skills in the STEM disciplines, but they are also be introduced to automotive and advanced manufacturing career pathways and opportunities they may not have thought possible. The motorsports community is strong in South Central Kentucky and we are delighted to be able to support an initiative that will train future workers to support and grow our local economy.”

For those businesses and individuals who wish to receive more information or be involved in the On Track initiative, we are seeking monetary and product donations as well as mentors. For more information, contact Kim Phelps at the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce by calling 270-901-4611 or emailing kim@bgchamber.com.