Food City officials recently announced that Tennessee Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has been named Grand Marshal of the Food City 250 Aug. 20.

“Food City operates 17 locations within metro Knoxville and we’re proud to have one of the area’s top business leaders to serve as Grand Marshal of our event,” said Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer. 

Born and raised in Knoxville, Tenn., Haslam excelled in academics and sports and was a leader in student government.  At 13, he got a job pumping gas at a family-owned service station.  After graduating from Emory University with a degree in history, Bill married Crissy, a young woman from Memphis and moved to Knoxville, where at his father’s urging, he agreed to work “for a couple of years” managing his family’s small chain of gas stations. 

He spent the early years driving around the country identifying, negotiating and purchasing ideal locations for new truck-stops.  When he first went to work for the company, Pilot Corporation had 800 employees, and when he left in 2003, the company had more than 14,000 employees in 39 states.  Throughout his time at Pilot, Bill sustained the company’s growth by allocating resources wisely, managing the business conservatively, working hard to increase sales and satisfy customers. 

In 2003, at the urging of many friends, he ran successfully for mayor of Knoxville.  The skills he honed in the private sector have helped make him an extremely effective Mayor.  Bill and Crissy have been blessed with three wonderful children:  Annie, Leigh and Will.        

“I’m honored to be the Grand Marshal of this great event,” Haslam said. “Crissy and I have spent a lot of time on the road during the past 19 months of the campaign, and to be able to take part in an event like this which means so much to the community is special to us.” 

Each year, Food City selects an individual to serve as the event grand marshal.  A number of public officials and well-known figures have been privileged to announce the four most popular words in motorsports “Gentlemen, start your engines”

Food City is Bristol Motor Speedway’s longest running sponsor and the second longest in NASCAR motor sports.  For more than 20 years, Food City also has hosted Family Race Night, one of the premier pre-race events on the circuit.  Since its inception, Food City Family Race Night has contributed over $500,000 to numerous non-profit organizations.

The Food City 250 gets under way at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20, followed by the IRWIN Tools Night Race at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21.  Qualifying for both events begins at 4:10 p.m. on Friday.  Tickets are still available and may be purchased at or by calling the BMS ticket office at (423) 989-6900.

Headquartered in Abingdon, Virginia, K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc. (Food City’s parent company) operates 105 retail food outlets throughout the tri-state regions of Southeast Kentucky, Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.  For more information, visit their website at