Bowling Green resident to serve as grand marshal at NASCAR Alsco 300

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Some of NASCAR’s best drivers are heading to the Bluegrass state Friday.

Kentucky Speedway is the host site for the 2019 Alsco 300 as part of the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

For the third time in the past four years of this race, a man from Bowling Green will have a big part to play in it, too.

Jerry Humble, a former football player at Western Kentucky University, will serve as grand marshal and get to say the four most famous words in all of auto racing: “Drivers, start your engines!”

“I couldn’t say no because I’m representing Kentucky,” Humble said. “I’m representing the military, and I’m representing Bowling Green. So I couldn’t say no.”

Getting the chance to be the grand marshal wasn’t anything Humble expected to happen.

He was nominated for the position by a friend and fellow aviation enthusiast of his, Larry Bailey, who had the honor of serving as the grand marshal during the 2018 Alsco 300.

“The feeling that you get from the sound of all that horsepower firing up and you uttered those words,” said Bailey, reflecting on his own experience. “You hear all of that behind you…it’s just incredible.”

Bailey felt that nominating Humble for this same role was a no-brainer, especially given Humble’s track record.

“His bio is several pages deep,” Bailey added. “If anyone needs to be honored for what he’s done for our country, it’s Jerry Humble.”

Humble has done a lot of things in his life.

After graduating from Western Kentucky University in November 1969, Humble became a commissioned officer of the U.S. Marine Corps and first served as a platoon and company commander in Vietnam. After 34 years of service and a career that would span the globe, he retired as a two-star general.

While active duty with the Marines, Maj. Gen. Humble helped develop the Arctic Warfare Training Program, Expeditionary Special Operations Capable Training Program, Rapid Response Raid Planning Program, Maneuver Warfare Training Program, Recruit Training Program (“The Crucible”) and the Jungle Warfare Training Center. In addition to his numerous campaigns and expeditionary and foreign medals, Humble has been decorated with over 30 combat and peacetime awards and decorations from the United States and its allies.

After his retirement, Humble served as director of Tennessee’s Office of Homeland Security. He consults and serves on several boards, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, New York City Police Department and New Jersey State Police. He is also a special deputy with the Daviess County Kentucky Sheriff’s Department, where he supports leadership training, counterterrorism and also serves on the FBI
Joint Terrorism Task Force.

He and his wife, Margaret, have two grown children.

Today, he enjoys mentoring leaders, fly-fishing, shooting sports, cycling and flying as an instrument-rated pilot, yet out of everything he’s done in his life, being a grand marshal is a first.

“I consider it as part of service to the community or to the state and the military,” said Humble. “Maybe some young person will see it and want tot be in the military of be proud of Kentucky.”

Humble has some familiarity with racing.

While on active duty, he worked with NASCAR when it was the Busch Series helping coordinate marketing efforts for the U.S. Marine Corps.

This experience will offer him a little something different.

“Just another experience and introducing my wife to it this time,” Humble said, with a laugh.

Since he’s new to the whole grand marshal thing, Bailey offered the two-star general some simple advice.

“I made suggestions of, you know, practice your lines and here’s the line,” said Bailey. “I can almost expect him to say, ‘Fire ’em up, boys,” or something like that. We’ll see.”

The other Bowling Green native to serve as grand marshal was General Dan Cherry in the 2016 Alsco 300.