TALLADEGA, Ala. – Darlington native and former head of communications at Darlington Raceway, Russell Branham -- Talladega Superspeedway’s current director of public relations and consumer marketing -- was honored Saturday as the recipient of the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award at the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Annual Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
“Are you kidding me,” said Branham, who served as Darlington Raceway’s head of PR from 1989-99. “This means more to me than anybody will ever know. I have lived my dream to be in this sport. When I think back to where I have been in this sport and then to be able to work and make so many friends, this is my favorite event to do every year because I get to come out and see friends that I have had for so many years. Some for over 30 years. For this to be voted on by media and NMPA…this means the absolute world to me.”
The award, presented annually since 2004, is named after Patterson who was the former Director of Public Relations of the superspeedway. It is presented in conjunction with the track and recognizes a public relations representative in the motorsports industry (team, track, and sanctioning body) who has exhibited the kind, generous qualities that Patterson always demonstrated.
Branham, well respected for his more than 30 years in the NASCAR industry, joined the historic 2.66-mile venue – which will celebrate its 50th Anniversary this year – in 2013. His unmatched expertise and experience in the public relations sector, along with his passion, is exemplified through his work and the countless relationships he holds with many in the NASCAR industry.
“Nobody loves the sport more than Russell Branham,” said track Chairman Grant Lynch. “He eat, drinks, sleeps and breathes NASCAR. His knowledge of the history of the sport and of Talladega is unmatched. His energy and enthusiasm to all that come across him is infectious and he never meets a stranger.”
Branham leads all PR aspects for one of the biggest endeavors in Talladega Superspeedway history – the Transformation Infield Project – which is set for completion in October 2019. It will allow fans to be immersed into the sport of NASCAR at the mammoth venue like never before with a one-of-a-kind Talladega Garage Experience, which will feature “up-close” access, interactive attractions and enhanced amenities for fans, sponsors, teams and stakeholders in the iconic Talladega infield.
The South Carolina native came to Talladega after spending more than 13 years as former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton’s (now NASCAR analyst for NBC) business manager as well as the Vice President of HB&M Sports, a marketing agency in Charlotte. While the 1987 graduate of Francis Marion University (SC) was at Darlington Raceway (SC) as its PR Director, Branham, a lifelong fan of the sport, was actively involved with the track’s Joe Weatherly Stock Car Museum and NMPA Hall of Fame.