Robert Johnson, a Winston-Salem State University junior Motorsports Management major from Kernersville is the first recipient of the $5,000 Sam Belnavis Scholarship from the North Carolina Motorsports Association and the North Carolina Motorsports Foundation.
The scholarship is being awarded for the first time during 2016-2017 academic year. The North Carolina Motorsports Association (NCMA) and the North Carolina Motorsports Foundation (NCMF) named the scholarship to honor motorsports legend Sam Belnavis. Johnson will be awarded the scholarship during the Tribute in Motorsports Awards Gala on Jan. 13, at the Concord Convention Hall at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Concord, NC.
“It is fitting to honor Sam Belnavis and his positive impact on motorsports management with this scholarship,” said Clay Harshaw, assistant professor and coordinator of the WSSU Motorsports Management program. “It is fantastic that the first Sam Belnavis Scholarship is being awarded to a student studying in the nation’s first Bachelor’s degree program in motorsports management. Robert is most deserving of this award. He displays a strong work ethic in the classroom and during the program’s field experiences. Our field experience partners have told us about Robert’s outstanding performance and his willingness to assist them with their operations. All of us in WSSU’s Motorsports Management Program are proud of his achievement.”
Belnavis has been a pioneer in motorsports for more than 30 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.
Although Belnavis has retired as Chief Diversity Officer and Owner-Designate at Roush Fenway Racing, he is still active, keeping up with the sport and the team. He is Chairman Emeritus of the board for the North Carolina Motorsports Foundation.