BLUE666? Pride and Personality Pop with Plates

Employee vanity license plates seen across campus

Chuck Landis may own the most coveted license plate at Duke. Maybe even Durham.

Get a look at the back of his black Acura TL and you may realize why - if you can decipher one of the most popular acronyms for Blue Devil fans come basketball season. His North Carolina plate reads "GTHC," which stands for "go to hell, Carolina," referencing Duke's arch rivals down Tobacco Road and the common chant sung by fans during Duke sporting events.

Landis has showcased the license plate on six different vehicles since he came into possession of it in 1984, when he was a student at Duke. Both he and his wife drive the car, although it stays at home for certain trips.

"It gets a lot of looks," said Landis, parking services manager with Parking and Transportation Services. "It's pretty frequent when we're in a shopping center and especially on campus for a ball game. We don't go to Chapel Hill with it too often."

Across the state, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles has issued about 220,000 personalized license plates. The last study by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators showed that North Carolina ranked 16th out of all U.S. states with 4 percent of registered vehicles showing a personalized plate. At the time, Virginia had the most with 16 percent of vehicles displaying a vanity plate.

Today, there are plenty right on Duke's campus. While a full list of personalized plates isn't currently compiled, Parking and Transportation Services has seen 90 plates registered over the years with some form of "Duke" - even variations of the same words like "DUKEBOY" and "DUKEBOI." One popular plate spotted around campus is "BLUE666" - a reference for the Duke Blue Devil.

Bruce Kuniholm, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy, promotes his passions while driving his Honda Element. Along with a wide variety of bumper stickers, his license plate reads "IRONYMAN" because he has competed in triathlons for about 30 years. "IRONMAN" - the name of a worldwide triathlon competition - was already taken.

"I originally planned to apply for IRONMAN but discovered someone already had one," said Kuniholm, who's had the plate for about 10 years. "It took me all of three seconds to think of the alternative and I decided on IRONYMAN."

Do you have a personalized license plate or favorite plate you've seen around campus? Tell us about it.