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Five questions with BMS' Jerry Caldwell

Jeff Birchfield • Aug 12, 2018 at 4:54 PM

Jerry Caldwell is the executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, the largest sports venue in Tennessee and the largest sports stadium in the United States.

This week, BMS hosts three of its biggest annual events — the UNOH 200 for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Thursday, the Food City 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Friday and the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series on Saturday.

BMS hosts another NASCAR Cup Series race, the Food City 500 in April, and is home to several other major events throughout the year.

In addition, the adjacent Bristol Dragway hosts the Thunder Valley Nationals, one of the largest drag racing events in the world, and next week will host the Discovery Channel's popular Street Outlaws.

In 2016, Caldwell led the speedway as it hosted the Battle at Bristol football game between the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech. It was the most attended football game in history with a live audience of 156,990. BMS also hosted the largest ESPN College Gameday ever and one week later, it was the site of the largest home crowd ever for an ETSU football game.

Caldwell, a North Carolina native, resides in the Jonesborough area with his wife, Belton, and their children. Before race week, he took time to answer questions about living in the Tri-Cities, his role at the speedway and the role of BMS in the Tri-Cities region and future plans.

Favorite food: Fish, particularly my wife's grouper piccata

Favorite movie: “Tombstone”

Favorite sports outside of racing: College football and golf

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN THE TRI-CITIES AND WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT IT?

Caldwell: I've been here 25 years, including 21 years at the speedway. I came to King University and I stayed after that. We live in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet and I'm reminded of that when I travel other places.

Seeing the beauty of this region and then you are surrounded by amazing people who have a great hospitable nature to them.

You're also close to larger cities if you want to get away. Charlotte is just three hours away, Nashville is four hours if you drive fast.

AS BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY GENERAL MANAGER, WHAT DO YOU MOST LIKE ABOUT THE JOB?

Caldwell: I've been general manager for eight years and there are still times that I'm surprised by something. But I'm blessed to have one of the best jobs out there to be able to promote one of the greatest venues in all of sports in our own backyard. I get to work with some of my best friends and I continue to be blessed.

PEOPLE LOOK AT BMS AS A SPORTS VENUE, HOW ABOUT AS A BUSINESS AND AS AN EMPLOYER?

Caldwell: We are an identifier for our region in many ways. We hope everyone in our region feels a sense of ownership in it and has pride in it. We welcome people from all over the world into Bristol Motor Speedway and are able to show off our region. It's a wonderful thing, but a huge responsibility because we know for a lot of folks their perception of what our region is about is tied to Bristol Motor Speedway. We don't take that lightly.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR BMS TO BE INVOLVED IN THE MOVEMENT FOR ALL THE TRI-CITIES TO WORK TOGETHER?

Caldwell: We're honored in being a part of that and proud to have all the support of all three cities and the entire region, especially this year. The region really wraps its arms around Bristol Motor Speedway to welcome fans from all over the world. The last race, we had fans from all 50 states and 26 countries.

HOW BIG OF AN ACCOMPLISHMENT WAS THE BATTLE AT BRISTOL FOOTBALL GAME, AND HOW ARE THINGS GOING FOR ANOTHER GAME?

Caldwell: We take tremendous pride in that because anytime you do the first of anything, it's a huge undertaking. It's not like you can call up someone else and ask them how to convert the facility and then welcome nearly 160,000 people to a football game.

The amazing team we have at Bristol Motor Speedway and the region with the first responders, TDOT and VDOT officials, the list goes on and on, how everyone plays a part in pulling something like that off.

I take a great sense of pride for everyone in the region because we pulled it off together. We are continuing to have conversations toward another game. Besides that, we're working on music events and other big events. When you have the largest stadium in the country, it's fun to dream with people on the events we are looking to pull off. It's going to be fun to see those come together.

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