Jerry Humble 7-15-19

Retired Maj. General Jerry Humble of Bowling Green gives a television interview Saturday at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. (Elliott Pratt/epratt@bgdailynews.com)

SPARTA – Retired Maj. Gen. Jerry Humble worked his way into many positions in a career spanning more than three decades in the U.S. military. Part of that time even included marketing that involved him with the Marine Corps’ sponsorship in NASCAR.

Humble experienced a new view of the sport Friday night as grand marshal for the Alsco 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

When Humble was approached with an opportunity to give the command to start for Friday night’s race, the retired two-star general couldn’t turn down the experience.

“Larry (Bailey) asked, and I said I think I’d like to do that,” Humble said. “You’re representing the military, you’re representing Kentucky and you’re representing Bowling Green. I couldn’t say no.”

Even at that, it’s not the first command he’s given in the NASCAR world.

Humble was in charge of marketing when he was commanding general of the Marine Corps recruiting command in the early 2000s. The Marine Corps sponsored a car with Rensi Racing in the Xfinity Series and was in desperate need of a change in driver.

Humble watched Chad Chaffin and rookie driver David Donohue struggle in the car for the 2001 season. He called a meeting with Rensi owners that at the time included Ed Rensi, former president and CEO of McDonald’s.

“I said I watched one of the races and I know fear when I see it,” Humble recalled. “I said I think your driver is scared. One of the Rensi brothers turned to the other and said, ‘I told you.’ We hired Bobby Hamilton Jr. and started winning.”

Hamilton Jr. won five races for the team and had top-10 finishes in the points standings the next two seasons. Humble retired as general in 2003.

Bailey returned to the track Friday for his first Kentucky Speedway experience. He gave the command Friday and enjoyed part of the first stage of Saturday’s Monster Energy Cup series race from atop the pit box for Bubba Wallace.

“I’ve been in front of TV a lot of my life and done a lot of stuff,” Humble said. “I said, ‘On behalf of Alsco and that great team and on behalf of all you who serve and who have friends who serve and all of you in harm’s way tonight, gentlemen start your engines.’ ”

Humble can add grand marshal to his long resume.

He played football at WKU from 1966-69 and was commissioned to the U.S. Marine Corps upon graduation. He began a 34-year career that included service in Vietnam, Desert Storm and other operations.

After retirement, Humble served as director of Tennessee’s Office of Homeland Security. He and his wife, Margaret, recently moved from Russellville to Bowling Green, where he currently serves on the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force for the FBI Bowling Green office.

Three Bowling Green residents have served as the grand marshal the last three years for the Xfinity series race at Kentucky. Retired Gen. Dan Cherry gave the command in 2016 and Larry Bailey, chairman of the Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, was grand marshal last year.

It was Bailey who approached Humble about becoming the third straight grand marshal from the area.

“I’ve known Jerry for a long time dating back to Western,” Bailey said. “He’s two days older than me. People don’t know what an accomplished person he is.”{&end}

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Covering the Western Kentucky University athletics beat for the Bowling Green Daily News.

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