Jerry Caldwell and Mickey Blazer to serve as Food City Dirt Race Officials

Published 4:28 pm Thursday, March 25, 2021

ABINGDON, Va. — Bristol Motor Speedway and Food City are gearing up for the historic Food City Dirt Race.  The event will mark the first time that NASCAR Cup Series drivers have competed on dirt since 1970.

Food City announced today that Jerry Caldwell, Bristol Motor Speedway vice president & general manager, and members of the events and operations team will serve as Grand Marshals and deliver the starting command. Mickey Blazer, Food City executive vice president of pharmacy, fuel and convenience stores, has been named Honorary Starter and will wave the green flag to signal the start of the March 28 event.

“Jerry Caldwell and the team at Bristol Motor Speedway are celebrating their 60th anniversary. We would like to applaud them for their hard work and efforts in securing premier sporting events like the Food City Dirt Race and last year’s All-Star Race. Our region is fortunate to have such a civic-minded corporate partner and we certainly wish them all the best for another 60 years of continued success,” says Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer. “We would also like to commend them for serving as a COVID vaccination site for the Sullivan County Health Department and for their efforts in implementing a comprehensive safety plan for race fans throughout this pandemic. We’re extremely proud to have Jerry and members of his team at Bristol Motor Speedway as Grand Marshals for our Food City Dirt Race.”
 
Nearly two decades ago Caldwell started working for the racetrack while studying business at King University in Bristol, Tenn. Today, he serves as the executive vice president and general manager of the Speedway and Dragway — a venue that has transformed into a major sports and entertainment destination. The facility made major national headlines in September 2016 for its magical transformation into a premier NCAA college football stadium and country music arena. Now, in 2021, it is being showcased with another transformation, from the World’s Fastest Concrete Half-Mile into a premier dirt track for the historic return of the NASCAR Cup Series to dirt racing after more than 50 years with the Food City Dirt Race on March 28.
 
“It is a great honor for our Bristol Motor Speedway team to be recognized by Steve Smith and the Food City family for our on-going community and business efforts,” said Caldwell. “What we have accomplished though wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation and teamwork of our fellow partners like the Sullivan County Health Department, Food City, Ballad Health and our local and state leaders. Our Appalachian Highlands Region was able to rise to the challenge because of their willingness and teamwork, making this an incredible place to call home.”
 
“The past year has certainly been challenging for all of us and we would like to commend Mickey Blazer and his dedicated team of over 250 Food City pharmacists for their extraordinary commitment to serving our community throughout this devastating pandemic,” says Smith. “Over the past several months, Mickey and his team have gone above and beyond the call of duty to work with local health districts and state officials to acquire and administer COVID vaccine to qualifying individuals in the states of Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia. They have worked tirelessly to administer vaccine to thousands of area residents. We are extremely proud to have Mickey represent our company as Honorary Starter of the upcoming Food City Dirt Race.”
 
Blazer joined the Food City team in 1977. He has served in numerous management roles throughout the company, including supervisor/area trainer, store manager, district manager, pharmacy operations manager, director of pharmacy operations, vice president of pharmacy operations, executive vice president of operations for Food City’s Knoxville Division and executive vice president of operations for the company’s Chattanooga Division. In 2017, he was promoted to his current position of executive vice president of pharmacy, fuel, and convenience stores. He is responsible for the oversight of fuel and pharmacy operations for Food City’s entire 134-store retail supermarket chain, including 109 pharmacies, 110 fuel centers and 5 convenience stores.
 
Blazer is also extremely actively within his community, having served as Secretary/Treasurer, Vice President and President of his local Optimist Clubs, President of the Morristown Plaza Merchants Association, Chairman of the East Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Stores Golf Tournament, and 2014 Chairman of the Tri-Cities Diabetes Step-Out Walk. He served on the Governor of Virginia’s Prescription Drug and Heroin Task Force Subcommittee and was given the opportunity to travel with the National Grocers Association Grassroots Committee to Washington, DC in 2018 to represent the industry at a White House meeting addressing the important role community pharmacy plays in the nation’s healthcare system.  In 2011, Blazer was inducted into the Tennessee Grocers prestigious “Hall of Eagles,” in recognition of his support and dedication to the Tennessee Grocers Education Foundation. Blazer currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association and is a member the organization’s Legislative Committee. He also chairs the Topco Managed Care Review Committee and the FMI – The Food Industry Association Pharmacy Subgroup.
 
“I’m honored and excited to have been selected to serve as Honorary Starter for the historic Food City Dirt Race on behalf of our entire pharmacy team, who have worked diligently on the front lines throughout this entire pandemic. As health care providers, our pharmacy team plays a vital role in providing quality health care for the communities we serve. We’re excited to say this now includes administering COVID vaccine to qualifying individuals,” says Blazer.
 
Food City is Bristol Motor Speedway’s longest running sponsor and the second longest in NASCAR. The Food City Dirt Race gets under way at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 28. 
 
Headquartered in Abingdon, Va., K-VA-T Food Stores (Food City’s parent company) operates 134 retail outlets throughout southeast Kentucky, southwest Virginia, east Tennessee, Chattanooga, and north Georgia.

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