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Unsung Heroes: Bill Burchette

March 19th, 2012 10:57 am by Staff Report

Unsung Heroes: Bill Burchette

Bill Burchette has had one job since college and continues to enjoy the exciting opportunities that lay before him each day at Bristol Motor Speedway.

By Susan Kendrick Lauhoff

"Loyal, laid back, dedicated, hard-worker, trustworthy, great employee" … all words used to describe a man without whom the Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) couldn't operate.

Bill Burchette studied finance and investments in his undergraduate studies before tackling sports management in graduate school at ETSU. With two years under his belt in an internship program with Bristol Motor Speedway, Burchette knew exactly where he wanted to spend his working days.

Sixteen years later, he still loves his job and has all intentions of retiring in Thunder Valley. With a twinkle in his eyes, he shares, "Bristol Motor Speedway is a great place to work. I enjoy coming in with 70 of my closest friends. We have a real good time."

When asked what his title is, Burchette quickly responds "Clean-up Supervisor and Safety Manager," and then mentions that he also handles Race Control, the 911 Dispatch, controls for many of the suite heating and air units, plus the BMS Texting Program.

A typical non-race day starts at 7 a.m. and ends around 3:30 p.m. However, for weeks leading up to race day, Burchette finds himself working 10-hour days.

On race days, the morning begins before 5 a.m. Armed with three phones, one radio, a fax machine, two laptops, and direct lines to security and NASCAR, Burchette is prepared for every contingency. Seated behind a desk high in one of the suites, he is the go-to man for everything.

Lori Worley, senior director of communications, brags that "Bill’s the guy we call to make sure it’s taken care of - whether somebody’s locked their keys in their car, or there’s a golf cart problem, or even if there’s a stopped up toilet."

"Seven hundred phone calls can come in during one race weekend and, after responding to all of them, that doubles the calls to 1400!" Burchette added. For accuracy, all calls and chores are logged.

Through the BMS Texting Program (text BRISTOL, then question to 69050), guests may inquire about practice times for their favorite series, lost and found, or where a driver’s souvenir trailer is located. The occasional fight may need to be handled. Medical emergencies arise. Parking issues are resolved. And, children have sought help in finding "lost parents." Whatever the case, Burchette has a team of reliable professionals managing each incident.

The race day ends for Burchette after 2 a.m., the following day.

With just a couple of hours of sleep, he is eagerly ready for the second day of racing and embraces the chaos again. It is very important to him that the 160,000 guests have an enjoyable time.

"If they enjoy it, you know that you’ve done something good," he said.

NASCAR weekends can generate up to 360 tons (720,000 lbs.) of garbage and Burchette coordinates all the clean-up efforts. Four thousand pounds of recyclable aluminum cans are collected and all the proceeds go to the Speedway Children’s Charity, which collaborates with many local charities.

General Manager Jerry Caldwell echoes the family atmosphere within BMS and the same sentiment as everyone else about Burchette’s responsibilities.

"Bill embodies passion. He is a special person and everyone likes him. He genuinely does a good job and cares about people. He completes his responsibilities on time and I know that they are done right. He has a tremendous amount of responsibility, yet is consistent in stressful settings. He is quick on his feet and always remains calm in the storm," Caldwell said.

Many other events are held at Bristol Motor Speedway throughout the year, including drag racing, RAM (Remote Area Medical), and the annual Speedway in Lights during the Christmas season.

Burchette is kept busy with all of these events. However, he does find some time for his hobbies which include traveling and award-winning outdoor photography (Best in Show in the 2010 Appalachian Fair, as well as ribbons in 2011). He and his wife, Jennifer, have an 11-month-old son named Linc, who was named after one of Burchette’s favorite presidents, Abraham Lincoln.

Bill Burchette has had one job since college and continues to enjoy the exciting opportunities that lie before him each day. He is respected and appreciated by his colleagues.

"He has high morals and his character is amazing and unquestionable. If I were to leave all my worldly possessions, he would protect them with his life," says Caldwell.

Though few fans ever see him, Bill Burchette sounds like the kind of man that everyone would want to have on their team - keeping an eye out, making sure operations run smoothly.

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