The formation of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) began in the early 1970’s when a group spearheaded by the late Frank Vessels, Jr. of Los Alamitos Race Course embarked upon the concept of a collegiate program to train young men and women to become future leaders in the racing industry.
Many ask why the program is based in Tucson. It was the desire of the founders that the program be located in a state with year-round racing, with both horse and greyhound interests, and at a land grant institution. Several universities around the country were contacted with none expressing genuine interest until the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture consented to try it on a trial period of five years.
Resources provided by the American Quarter Horse Association Racing Department helped the University get the program started. Financial commitments from a number of organizations in the industry provided the seed money and the Race Track Industry Program’s first class was offered in January of 1974.
A significant program implemented during the first year was that of a seminar designed to bring industry leaders to campus for exchange of information and to benefit the students’ understanding of racing. The first Symposium was held in December of 1974 and attracted approximately 45 people. Held annually since then, the event has gained worldwide recognition and attracts attendees representing racing interests from across the United States and the world.
Just as the founders of the program envisioned, RTIP students still play an important role at the Symposium and are afforded a unique opportunity to meet and interact with many of the industry’s best known and respected leaders. Few other educational programs provide this kind of access and networking with the industry that employs its students.
The Race Track Industry Program is the first program of its kind offering a Bachelor's degree centered on the racing industry. It offers two paths of study; one preparing students for race track management, regulation or pari-mutuel racing organizations, the other preparing students for employment in areas dealing with racing and breeding animals.