The sporting worlds of NASCAR and college football will collide again this weekend, when UT head coach Butch Jones once again serves as Grand Marshal for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Coach Jones will be joined by Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer. In October, the two coaches, along with BMS officials, announced that their two teams would face each other in the Battle at Bristol in 2016.
While not scheduled to meet in the infield at Bristol Motor Speedway until September 10, 2016, the coaches for two of the nation's tradition-rich football programs get together at the start/finish line for the March 16 Food City 500.
"People talked about this game for 17 years," said Bristol Motor Speedway General Manager Jerry Caldwell. "It is hard to believe, but now that it has been announced, conversation and interest has just increased. People are excited, few more so than these two coaches."
Jones was also grand marshal for the same race last year.
"I am honored to once again have the opportunity to travel to Bristol Motor Speedway and play a role, along with Coach Beamer, in the Food City 500," said Jones. "We are very much looking forward to breaking the all-time college football attendance record in September 2016 at Bristol. While our game is still two years away, I had such a great time at last year's race that I wanted to return to Bristol to witness again one of NASCAR's most iconic and exciting events."
Beamer served as the honorary starter for the 2005 Food City 500. A native of Carroll County, Va., less than two hours away, Beamer has been coming to Bristol for years and even drove the high banks in a 2009 charity race. He is looking forward to being back and teaming with Jones.
"As I said in my book, Let Me Be Frank, I think Butch Jones has the right "stuff." I think he is going to have a great career at Tennessee. To be the Co-Grand Marshal with him is a pleasure as we represent the two schools that have a lot of fans in this area.
"Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the most exciting sports venues that I know and like to visit, and we look forward to playing Tennessee there in 2016 before the largest crowd to ever watch a football game."
Tickets for Sunday's Food City 500 start at just $70 and weekend packages for all three races are available for as low as $89. Fans may call (855) 580-5525 or visit www.bristoltix.com to experience this spring's battle on the high banks of the Last Great Colosseum.