Bristol Motor Speedway/Dragway Executive Jeff Byrd Named To International Drag Racing Hall Of Fame Class Of 2017
Jeff Byrd, the late Bristol Motor Speedway president and general manager and largely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential promoters in all of motorsports, has been named as an inductee to the 2017 class of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Byrd made a huge impact on the sport of drag racing during his tenure as a senior executive with the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., whose Winston brand served as the title sponsor for touring series of the biggest drag racing sanctioning organizations in the U.S. - the National Hot Rod Association and International Hot Rod Association.
After leaving R.J. Reynolds, Byrd was hired by Bruton Smith to oversee Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Dragway. Byrd guided a total rebuild of Bristol Dragway and returned the track to NHRA sanction. The dragstrip hosted two successful all-star events before joining the NHRA touring circuit as host of a National Event. The track's NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals - held every Father's Day weekend - continues to be one of the most anticipated events on the NHRA schedule for fans and race teams alike.
"Jeff's contributions to the world of motorsports are immense, and perhaps his greatest impact was felt in the drag racing arena," said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speeway and Bristol Dragway. "Through his years at R.J. Reynolds and later here with the rebuilding of Bristol Dragway, Jeff's passion and friendship to the hot rodding community is well-known and will long be remembered. His induction into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame is well deserved."
Known throughout the motorsports industry as a leader at the forefront of excellence in customer service, Byrd's motto of "exceed expectations" continues to thrive today throughout the Bristol Motor Speedway staff and extended Speedway Motorsports Inc. family.
He made a lasting impact with literally every person he encountered. A major part of his success was his ability to build meaningful relationships with all of the drivers, team owners, crew members, sanctioning body officials and fans across the drag racing landscape.
Byrd, who passed away in 2010 after a battle with cancer, is joined in the class of 2017 by legendary Los Angeles drag racers Jeep and Ronnie Hampshire, Mooneyes founder Dean Moon, husband and wife speed shop owners Joe & Dellie Reath, racer and promoter "Gentleman" Joe Schubeck, wheelstander founding father "Wild Bill" Shrewsberry, and Larry Sutton, a longtime chief starter at several Southern California dragstrips, most notably at famed Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach.
The International Drag Racing Hall of Fame is organized and conducted by the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida. The 27th International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Banquet presented by Lucas Oil Products will be held Thursday, March 16th, 2017 in Gainesville, Fla. at the Wyndham Garden Hotel.