LEXINGTON – The Bluegrass Sports Commission (BSC) is proud to announce Jerry Carroll and Governor Martha Layne Collins as the first-ever winners of the Jim Host Awards presented by KEMI, which will be presented during the Bluegrass Sports Awards presented by Alltech on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012, at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa.
Carroll will receive the Jim Host Sports Business Award which is given annually to a Kentuckian that has achieved a high level of success in the sports industry and has had a positive impact on Kentucky. Carroll is the quintessential entrepreneur, having risen from early adult jobs as a golf pro, radio/TV sports personality and leasing agent to become Tennessee’s largest office developer and ultimately a major force in the Northern Kentucky real estate and sports scene with the acquisition and renovation of Turfway Park and the development of Kentucky Speedway.
Kentucky Speedway drew national acclaim in 2011 when its new owner, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (SMI) under the direction of Chairman Bruton Smith, conducted its inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, The Quaker State 400. Attracting this race to Kentucky marked the end of a decade long quest by Carroll to bring world class motorsports to the Commonwealth.
In 1996, Carroll received the prestigious Keene Daingerfield Award for his contributions to the national Thoroughbred industry. That same year, Kentucky horsemen named him Man of the Year in recognition of his contributions to their industry and the Commonwealth. Additionally, Carroll was a founding partner of Retama Park, a thoroughbred track near San Antonio, Texas, and later partnered with Churchill Downs, Inc., to acquire and operate Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Ky.
Carroll has also been an avid, passionate thoroughbred owner for more than 30 years. He gained notoriety in 2008 by campaigning the outstanding three year-old colt, Racecar Rhapsody, who finished a strong fourth to Big Brown in the Preakness Stakes before being sold to the Vladimir Putin family and in 2009, Carroll received the Sports Executive Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cincinnati Sports Professionals Network.
“I am so pleased with the Bluegrass Sports Commission’s decision to award the first Kentucky Sports Business Award to a true pioneer in Jerry Carroll,” said Host. “No one in our state’s history deserves this award more than Jerry for what he did to bring NASCAR to the Commonwealth.”
Governor Collins will be the first ever recipient of the Jim Host Youth Sports Award which will be given annually to a Kentuckian that has achieved great success in coaching, administering, volunteering or otherwise associating with youth and/or high school sports, who has had a positive impact on their community and the Commonwealth.
In 1985, Collins created the Bluegrass State Games which are entering their 28th year, a non-profit program sponsored privately to promote amateur athletics across the Commonwealth. The Games are designed to provide Kentuckians of all ages and skill levels a wholesome avenue for positive and healthy development through sports and physical activity, while promoting and developing amateur athletics to provide the amateur athlete an opportunity to showcase his/her talent and receive statewide recognition. More than 16,000 people participated in the event in 2010 and the BGSG is one of the largest amateur sporting events in the nation. Approximately 10,000 of those participated in youth events.
During her tenure as Governor (1983-1987), she is noted for establishing education reform and economic development as critical priorities and for achieving success on both fronts. Passage of a $300 million education reform package and creation of record jobs and investment were highlights of the Collins administration. She was also instrumental in bringing Toyota Motor Manufacturing and many other international supply companies to Kentucky.
Collins is currently the International Trade Consultant for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. She was the Chairman of the World Trade Center Kentucky until June 30, 2011. The University of Kentucky graduate is also the Executive Scholar in Residence at Georgetown College where she developed the Center for Commerce, Language and Culture, and Kentucky’s Honorary Consul-General of Japan.
“Governor Collins has been a real leader in the business of sports for the Commonwealth,” said Host. “She is totally responsible for initiating the Bluegrass State Games which have become a leader nationally in participation. I am so glad she is receiving this award which she richly deserves.”
As previously announced, in addition to the Jim Host Awards, Lexington’s Tom Hammond will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement award, while the Lexington Herald-Leader will present its annual Sportsman of the Year Award live for the first time to cap off the evening.