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Proud Daughter

Check out Poppa Burdine in the Kingsport Times News! Colonel Burdine was on the front page this week talking about economic development – and Bristol Motor Speedways campaign, by Hank Hayes. Article below!

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<Photo courtesy of Ned Jilton II>

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) waved the green flag Wednesday on an “It’s MY Bristol Baby!” campaign to get the region more involved — and take more personal ownership — in the track’s success.

“This is your speedway. … This place belongs to everyone,” said BMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell.

Telling people just how much cash BMS brings to the region was a centerpiece of the campaign, announced before dozens of elected officials and business leaders at BMS’ Bruton Smith Administration Offices.

The Bristol Chamber of Commerce said BMS’ and the Bristol Dragway’s direct economic impact totaled more than $417 million from 2012 through 2014.

This figure was derived from racing and ancillary activities held on-site, charitable events, contributions and tax revenue. 

The indirect economic impact of the venues totaled more than $1.4 billion moving through the regional economy, according to the Bristol Chamber.

“Visitors who come spend money in our region, and are lodging in our hotels. They are filling our campgrounds, and they are dining in our restaurants,” Bristol Chamber President and CEO Joy Madison noted. “They are shopping in our town. They are shopping at our food stores and putting gas in their vehicles.” 

Caldwell also announced the planned September 2016 “Battle of Bristol” pairing the Tennessee Volunteers versus the Virginia Tech Hokies is expected to provide a direct impact of $125 million to the local economy, along with an indirect impact of more than $439 million.

BMS, a 150,000-seat NASCAR venue, has not had a sellout since 2010.

This spring’s Food City 500 was moved by NASCAR from March to April 19, and Caldwell expressed relief at the move — especially considering what the region has gone through with recent snowstorms.

“This time last year, we would have had cars on the track tomorrow,” Caldwell told the gathering. “We would have been preparing last weekend when it was 10 degrees or something. … We are certainly thankful to be very blessed we have 39 more days to prepare for the Food City 500 race weekend.” 

Afterward, when asked how the date change has impacted ticket sales, Caldwell said track officials won’t fully know until the week of the race.

“The initial impact has been great. … We expect that to continue,” Caldwell stressed.

Lowest price single tickets, he indicated, will be under $60 for walkups.

As part of the campaign, BMS is providing area chambers of commerce with “It’s MY Bristol Baby!” promotional kits and yard signs to be distributed.

BMS also announced some campaign initiatives starting with an open house on March 28 from noon to 3 p.m. The free event will feature kids’ activities, interactive stations, a number of displays, track tours and a free hot dog lunch. Ticket holders for the April 19 Food City 500 will also have an opportunity to sign up to drive their own vehicles for five laps around “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” while following an official pace car.

Caldwell also said there will be a newly expanded “Park-and-Ride” option for fans through an arrangement with RallyBus, an on-demand travel company, at four Tri-Cities locations — Bristol, Va., Johnson City and Blountville, plus a soon-to-be-named site in Kingsport. RallyBus will offer a reduced price of $20 per round-trip ticket, with reservations being required.

Free parking will also remain available with free shuttle service at two locations — Speedway Parking and Camping at the corner of White Top Road and Highway 394, and Whitetop Creek Park, also located off Highway 394, on Sportsway Drive.

The campaign also is calling attention to the 50th anniversary of the Bristol Dragway, also known as “Thunder Valley.” 

The dragway drew 52,000 fans its first year compared to 18,000 fans coming through BMS, according to track historian David McGee.

“It literally put Bristol on the map,” McGee said of the dragway.

For more about RallyBus, go to Rallybus.net/MyBristol and enter the code “MYBRISTOL.” 

For more about BMS, go to www.bristolmotorspeedway.com.

 
 

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