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Paula Deen will be grand marshal of Food City 250

Staff report • Aug 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Well-known cooking sensation Paula Deen has been named the grand marshal of the Aug. 22 Food City 250.

Paula’s husband, Michael Groover, will serve as honorary starter for the race, the 19th consecutive Nationwide event at Bristol Motor Speedway to draw a crowd in excess of 100,000.

Deen’s career began with a simple bag lunch delivery and catering service called The Bag Lady. Using the lessons she learned from her Grandmother Paul, with the help of her sons, she quickly turned the business into a thriving full-service restaurant — The Lady & Sons. She later went on to publish numerous cookbooks, star in two Food Network cooking shows, open another restaurant called Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House with her brother, and launch a successful magazine — Cooking with Paula Deen.

“We enjoy a wonderful relationship with Ms. Deen’s sponsor, Smithfield, and had the privilege of hosting her during our 2006 Food City Food Show in Knoxville. The response was so overwhelming that the facility literally could not contain the crowd,” said Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer. “We’re thrilled to have Ms. Deen and her husband, Michael, serve as grand marshal and honorary starter of the Food City 250. It’s a winning combination for our company and a credit to our region”

Food City is Bristol Motor Speedway’s longest running sponsor and the second longest in NASCAR motorsports. In 2007, the company signed a contract extension with the speedway to take its sponsorship through 2010. For more than 20 years, Food City has also hosted the popular Family Race Night events, one of the largest fan-based events on the circuit. Since its inception, Food City Family Race Night has contributed more than $500,000 to numerous area nonprofit organizations.

The Food City 250 gets under way at 8 p.m. Aug. 22.

Qualifying for both the Food City 250 Nationwide Series and the Sharpie 500 Sprint Cup will also take place that day beginning at 3:40 p.m.

The Sharpie 500 is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Aug. 23.

The Aaron’s 150 USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series and O’Reilly 200 Craftsman Truck Series take to the track on Aug. 20 beginning at 5:45 p.m.

Tickets are still available for the Aaron’s 150/O’Reilly 200 (starting at $30) and Food City 250 (starting at $45) and may be purchased at www.bristoltix.com or by calling the BMS ticket office at 989-6900.

Headquartered in Abingdon, K-VA-T Food Stores operates 98 retail food outlets throughout the tri-state regions of Southeast Kentucky, Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.

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