Jeff Byrd Part of Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2012
Former Bristol Motor Speedway president and general manager Jeff Byrd will be inducted posthumously into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
Byrd, who passed away in October of 2010, is among 10 inductees who will be enshrined at the annual Hall of Fame banquet in Nashville May 19.
“This is a tremendous honor for Jeff,” said BMS vice-president and general manager Jerry Caldwell. “When he first came here from North Carolina, his goal was to make Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Dragway two of the most successful and popular sports facilities in the country. And that’s exactly what he did.
“Everyone here at BMS is absolutely thrilled and very appreciative that the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame has chosen to recognize Jeff’s many contributions in such an incredible manner.”
A native of North Carolina, Byrd moved to Bristol in 1996 to take the helm at BMS after a lengthy and extremely successful career at R.J. Reynolds. The gregarious Byrd was part of a core group of bright, young people who worked at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. from the 1970s to the 1990s, helping to transform NASCAR into one of the premier spectator sports in the world.
Under Byrd’s leadership and guidance, Bristol Motor Speedway grew from a 70,000-seat facility to one of the five largest stadiums in the country in terms of permanent seating with approximately 160,000 seats. Byrd’s attention to guests – and his mantra of Exceed Expectations – made the race track a fan-favorite and one of NASCAR’s most popular venues. During his tenure, Byrd also oversaw the transformation of Bristol Dragway into one of the country’s premier NHRA facilities.
Others who join Byrd in the 2012 Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame class are Bill Dance (professional fisherman), C.L. “Gibby” Gilbert (golfer), Zan Guerry (tennis player), Rick Insell (high school/college basketball coach), Tim Jackson (golfer), James Marsalis (NFL player), Gene Bartow (college basketball coach), Brig. General Austin Conner Shofner (football/wrestling) and David Walker, (track and field coach and cross country coach from East Tennessee State University).