Pilot Flying J to sponsor Battle at Bristol

By Mike Steely


“College Football’s Biggest Ever” game just might live up to its slogan with some 150,000 fans watching the UT Volunteers face the Virginia Tech Hokies next September at the Bristol Motor Speedway. The game at the speedway, almost ten years in planning, will certainly be a boon for Pilot Flying J Partners.

The corporation has acquired naming rights for the game which will be called the Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol and be telecast on ABC or ESPN.  Since those Disneyowned networks will be promoting the event next  year prior to the September 10th game the promotion of Pilot Flying J will be nationwide. The announcement came Tuesday in a large corporate and media event at the corporate headquarters in Knoxville.

Pilot founder and Chairman Jim Haslam said the event and the promotion of it means “Pilot Flying J becomes a national brand.” He called the corporation the “undisputed leader in travel hospitality.”

Haslam’s granddaughter, Whitney Haslam Johnson, said the event will “tell the Pilot Flying J story” and mentioned the NASCAR Sprint Cup Car and the driver, Michael Annette, sponsored by the corporation. Annette was present during the announcement.

Jerry Caldwell, vice president and general manager of the Bristol Motor Speedway, told the crowd that the agreement is “a perfect partnership” between the speedway, Haslam’s corporation, and ABC/ESPN. He said that tickets to the event are almost sold out.

“This has been the longest promoted event  that has never taken place,” Caldwell said, adding that the speedway is also planning other events during the week leading up to the game including a major music concert the night before.

ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch called the announcement and the game a “landmark event” and said it would become “part of history.”

“It’s not about us,” Haslam told the audience. “It’s about the 24,000 people who work for Pilot Flying J.”