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BMS staff goes all out for sellout

July 27th, 2011 12:17 am by Jeff Birchfield

It can’t be blamed on a lack of effort.
During a recent interview, Jerry Caldwell, BMS vice president and general manager, was optimistic about filling all 160,000 seats for next month’s IRWIN Tools Night Race. At the time, he said the speedway was about to introduce several initiatives to help them achieve that goal.
Since that time, speedway officials have offered a variety of promotions. They have included autographs by such drivers as Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon with the purchase of BMS tickets.
In one of the most creative promotions, the speedway announced last week it is partnering with the University of Tennessee football program. Through the “Dream Ticket” package, fans can buy a combination of tickets to the night race and to the Vols’ opener against Montana for $110.
Last Thursday alone, there were four different press releases sent out to promote special events at the speedway and dragway, and that was followed by six press releases on Monday.
One of promotions is the Ride-of-a-Lifetime auction where fans could bid to ride around the track in pre-race introductions with one of the three aforementioned superstars or other NASCAR drivers like Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman or Kevin Harvick.
Another press release told of the speedway working with Victory Weekend Ministries to offer Christian-themed entertainment such as concerts, driver testimonies and motivational speakers during race week.
Serious tailgaters have the opportunity to enter the fourth annual Ford Cornhole Classic next month with an entry fee of $40 per player. This effort appears even greater than the effort to sell out the 2009 Food City 500.
At that time, it looked bleak that BMS would reach a 54th consecutive sellout for that race, but the speedway went the extra mile working with the race sponsor, even setting up ticket booths at several of the grocery stores.
It wasn’t until the 11th hour, literally the day before the race, that then BMS president Jeff Byrd was able to announce the event had been sold out.
Hopefully, this latest effort will be rewarded with the same result. Regardless of how it turns out, BMS officials deserve a lot of credit for all the hard work they’ve put into making this year’s IRWIN Tools Night Race a success.
n The BMS complex is bursting with action this week, starting with the NHRA Jr. Dragster Eastern Conference Finals, which brings in more than 500 young racers from across the Eastern U.S.
The busy week concludes on Saturday. There is the BMS Fan Apprecation Day from 1-4 p.m. and the Thompson Metal Monster Truck Madness scheduled for Saturday evening.
Trucks such as Grave Digger, Spiderman, Brutus, Samson and War Wizard will race around the BMS infield during two qualifying rounds, followed by eliminations. There is also a freestyle event where the drivers perform many of the stunts seen on the television show, “Monster Jam.”
Two of the more famous trucks, Grave Digger and the Bristol-based War Wizard, will make appearances at Beef O’Brady’s in Elizabethton from 3-7 p.m. on Friday.
n Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., won last Friday night’s Southern National Series Late Model event at Volunteer Speedway.
Madden started on the pole and led flag-to-flag in the 53-lap main event. He stayed ahead of a furious battle for the runner-up spot where California driver Eric Jacobsen held off current ARCA Series point leader Ty Dillon, the younger brother of Truck Series star Austin Dillon.
Highlighting the action in the other divisions, Pierce McCarter of Sevierville passed Johnson City’s Dale Ball for the lead on the second lap of the 25-lap Pro Late Model race and went on to capture the win.
Ball, the track’s point leader, raced on to a second-place finish followed by Jonesborough drivers Bobby Mays and Tim Byrd.
Shannon Emery of Morristown recorded his second straight Hobby Stock feature win, while Eddie Morris of Gray captured the Road Warrior victory.
Volunteer Speedway takes this weekend off before returning with the Super Late Model “Back to School Blowout” scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6.
n Kingsport Speedway is back in action this Friday night after taking off the previous week.
There is a four-division program scheduled for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The classes running are: Late Model Stock, Street Stock, Pure 4 and Legends.
Nate Monteith of Blountville currently holds a nine-point lead over Lee Tissot of Asheville, N.C., in the featured Late Model division.
Despite missing the first three races of the season, Johnson City’s Zeke Shell has climbed all the way to fourth place in the latest standings, ahead of consistent front-runners like Brad Housewright of Kingsport and Paul Nogradi, a University fo Tennessee engineering student from Oak Ridge.
Other points leaders are: Jeff Counts in Street Stock, John Ketron in Pure 4, Jeff Woodward in Limited Sportsman and Hayden Woods of Piney Flats in Legends.

Jeff Birchfield is a sports writer for the Johnson City Press. You may contact him at

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