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Scholarship Announced In Honor of NASCAR Pioneer

Recently, the North Carolina Motorsports Association (NCMA) and the North Carolina Motorsports Foundation (NCMF) honored motorsports legend Sam Belnavis with the announcement of the Sam Belnavis Scholarship Award. At the same time NASCAR legend Richard Petty presented him with a NCMF Lifetime Achievement Award. The Sam Belnavis Scholarship will be given annually in the amount of $5,000.RichardSam SH

Sam Belnavis has been a pioneer in motorsports for more than thirty years. He joined Miller Brewing Company in the late 1970s, and in 1978 was chosen to manage the new sports marketing department. He broke into NASCAR when he signed driver Bobby Allison to a Miller sponsorship contract. Two years later Bobby Allison won the series championship in the #22 Miller High Life Ford.

Belnavis blazed paths, as a general manager and race team owner. He introduced the National Guard to the NASCAR Sprint Cup series as a sponsor of his team, BelCar Racing, with legendary crew chief Travis Carter and Todd Bodine as the driver.

“The most gratifying part of my motorsports career was spent working to ensure that diversity and inclusion from a career perspective was not overlooked. NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program has helped to bridge that gap. Most people, namely students, do not realize that career opportunities NASCAR offers outside of the driver. I hope to change that perspective” said Belnavis.

Although Belnavis has retired as Chief Diversity Officer and Owner-Designate at Roush Fenway Racing, he is still active, keeping up the sport and the team.  He is Chairman Emeritus of the board for the North Carolina Motorsports Foundation.

Belnavis resides in Concord, North Carolina. He is past president of the 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte. He and his wife, Chris, of 55 years, are the parents of four children and seven grandchildren. Belnavis is a life member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and a member of Jonesville AME Zion Church in Matthews, North Carolina.

Choate Construction

Founded in 1989 in Atlanta by Millard Choate, the construction company now boasts eight offices in the Southeast, including the one in Charlotte. Reputation is Everything. That’s Choate’s tagline.

With motorsports clients that read like a who’s who – Hendrick, Penske, Roush, Michael Waltrip, Stewart-Haas, Kasey Kahne Racing, Curb Motorsports, TRD, JR Motorsports, Speedway Motorsports – the Charlotte office keeps approximately 100 employees busy with projects in the racing industry and others.

Just to give you an idea of what kind of personnel it takes to undertake a large construction project, here’s a sample: project managers, superintendents, pre-construction managers (who have engineering backgrounds), administrative staff, field staff, marketing professionals, and management.

The client usually brings his or her architect together with the contractor to work together on a given build. The team approach favored by Choate coordinates all aspects of work. Choate uses Building Information Modeling software and the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Rating system. You can see some of the LEED implementation in the Charlotte office.

Choate is licensed in 40 states and a visit to the website is pretty impressive. Choate has Fortune 500 and Global 500 clients, many of which represent the 70 percent of new projects it starts each year from repeat clients. Many thanks to John Dudas for the tour. Start yours here.

Corinne Economaki


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