Mike Helton to serve as Food City Dirt Race Honorary Starter

Published 11:46 am Thursday, April 6, 2023

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ABINGDON, Va. – Food City is gearing up for the April 9 running of the Food City Dirt Race, the only dirt race in NASCAR. On Monday, April 3, company officials announced that Mike Helton will serve as the event Honorary Starter and waive the green flag to signal the start of Sunday night’s clash.
“While having had the chance to watch a lot of NASCAR races, this is truly a unique honor to have been offered, especially by Food City and at Bristol,” says Helton.
One of the most familiar names in the NASCAR community, Helton is a native of Bristol, VA.  He began his leadership career in motorsports in 1980 and was the first person outside the France family to be named NASCAR President in 2000. Helton now serves as a senior advisor to NASCAR.
With a career spanning over five-decades, Helton has served in a number of roles within the motorsport’s community.  He was a track operator at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, and even raced a little himself before joining NASCAR.
During his time as President, Helton cemented NASCAR’s presence in major markets within the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Europe. His hard work on the competition side of the sport included a push to increase safety standards – something NASCAR took the lead on and continues to revolutionize today.  He was also influential in the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C. – the first such facility owned and operated by a racing sanctioning body.
Helton currently serves as a member of the NASCAR Board of Directors as well as the Board of Directors for The NASCAR Foundation.  Earlier this year, he received the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Landmark Award.
“We’re excited to welcome Mike back home to Bristol,” says Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer. “He has been extremely instrumental in the development of NASCAR and motorsports in general and we’re very proud to have him serve as the Honorary Starter of Sunday night’s Food City Dirt Race. Not only am I proud to call Mike a friend of mine, but he’s also a friend of Food City and a friend of racing.”
Food City serves as the title sponsor of the spring NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race and fall Food City 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race. Having been a sponsor of the sport for over 30 years, the supermarket retailer is Bristol Motor Speedway’s longest running race entitlement sponsor and the second longest in NASCAR. The Food City Dirt Race gets underway at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 9, 2023.

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