Food City is gearing up for the April 9th running of the Food City Dirt Race (7 p.m., FOX and PRN Radio), the only dirt race in NASCAR. Recently, company officials announced that Rear Admiral Stephen “Josh” Jackson will serve as the event Grand Marshal and deliver the starting command for Sunday night‘s clash.

“I am honored, on behalf of the men and women of the United States Navy, to be named the Grand Marshal for the Food City Dirt Race. As someone who has spent his entire career among high performing organizations in the military, I‘m excited to see these race teams in action up close and personal, and it is even more special because I‘ll be joined by my brothers and sisters in uniform for this experience. We are very grateful to Food City, Bristol Motor Speedway, and NASCAR for this incredible opportunity, and are looking forward to race weekend!”

A native of Syracuse, New York, Rear Admiral Jackson graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1993 and holds a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. Rear Admiral Jackson has spent the majority of his 30-year career as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officer, and currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Operations and Integration Directorate at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. In addition to his role as the Deputy Director, Rear Admiral Jackson is one of two Admirals who lead the Navy EOD community. He oversees the development and community health of over 1,500 EOD officers and technicians that deploy worldwide.

His command assignments include commanding officer of EOD Mobile Unit 2 (EODMU 2), where he deployed his unit to Iraq as a Battalion-equivalent Joint Task Force, leading counter-improvised explosive device operations in direct support of U.S. Division North (TF MARNE); commander, EOD Group 2, where he manned, trained, and equipped east coast EOD and mobile diving and salvage forces in support of combatant commanders worldwide; and commander, Task Force 56, headquartered in Bahrain, where he employed navy expeditionary combat forces in support of U.S. 5th Fleet. He has completed six shipboard deployments across the globe and four combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rear Admiral Jackson is the recipient of various personal and campaign awards including the Bronze Star Medal (two awards) and Combat Action Ribbon. He considers the awards associated with unit performance to be most satisfying, including the Presidential Unit Citation (four awards), Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation, and Meritorious Unit Commendation.

The Navy connection for Food City president and chief executive officer Steven C. Smith is a prominent one. “Both my father (class of 1948A) and son-in-law (class of 2011) graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, so I have a great respect for the United States Navy. Thus, having grown up in a Naval family, it‘s a privilege to join Bristol Motor Speedway as they celebrate Navy week and honor the men and women who so valiantly serve in our armed forces,” said Smith. “Food City is honored to have someone with Admiral Jackson‘s credentials and background serve as our event Grand Marshal.”

Rear Admiral Jackson will be joined in ceremonial pre-race events by U.S. Navy Sailors from across the fleet who are in town participating in Tri-Cities Navy Week. Navy Weeks are the service‘s signature outreach program, designed to connect the citizens of Tri-Cities with the Navy, its Sailors, and its importance to national security and prosperity. Navy Week will feature in-person demonstrations, public performances, and community outreach engagements throughout the week.

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. on Sunday, April 9, 2023.

— Bristol Motor Speedway —