St. John grad ready for busy Sunday at MIS

A 1984 graduate of St. John Central High School in Bellaire has been a busy man this week.

Dennis Bickmeier is the Vice President for Consumer Sales and marketing at Michigan International Speedway, which, of course, hosts the NASCAR LifeLock 400 today at its Brooklyn-based track.

What does his title actually entail?

Actually, a lot!

“I oversee three departments at MIS,” he said in a telephone interview earlier this week from his office at the 132,000-seat venue. “The public relations/communications, corporate sales partnerships, and ticket sales operations.”

The 19-year veteran of the public relations and communications field was hired at MIS after spending seven seasons at California Speedway, MIS’ sister track.

“It was a great opportunity,” he said of his new appointment. “It was the same owners as in california, so I knew a lot of people and that made the transition that much easier.”

He said the move east was really a no-brainer as all of his family still reside in the Ohio Valley.

“First of all, my whole family still lives there and we were only able to get back every so often from California,” he related, “but this is a great opportunity to be closer to home from a family perspective.

“I think the world of the people in the Ohio Valley, and there are some that I keep in contact room, but not as many as I’d like.

He said he still follows St. John Central and wanted to wish good friend Bubba Kapral congratulations for winning the Ohio Division III?girls’ track state title.

Bickmeier has worked for some of the top sports organizations in the Los Angeles market, most recently as a sports public relations and marketing consultant for clients like AT&T Champions Classic, California Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Brener, Zwikel and Associates.

“After spending most of my professional career in southern California, this will be a new challenge that I’m really looking forward to. And as a longtime employee of California Speedway, I have always been impressed with MIS as a facility and the dedication of its employees who care so much about the venue. The fans in the region are so passionate about racing, in particular NASCAR, which increases my excitement about coming to MIS.

He told me that one of his main objectives will be to try and get more fans from Ohio and Pennsylvania to the track, which will also hold a NASCAR?event August 16-17 when both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup drivers will be in town.

“We’re looking to market the facility more in Ohio due to the economy,” he offered. “Don’t get me wrong, we get our share of fans from all over, but we think the Columbus area is a great area. All along the I-70 corridor to Pittsburgh. We all know how rabid and passionate NASCAR fans are in the Ohio Valley, so I think we’ve got enough possible clients.

In addition to the 132,000 seats in the grandstand, Bickmeier said there are 8,800 campsites that make you feel like you’re at a state or national park.

“The opportunity for camping here is incredible,” he added.

I’M?NOT going to brag about last week (I finally got a winner in Kasey Kahne. Thanks mom!), but I am going to go with the pole-sitter again this week in Kyle Busch.

North can be reached at