Bikes, Blues & BBQ director Nelson Driver stepping down

After six years leading one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the country, Bikes, Blues & BBQ event director Nelson Driver is calling it quits this year.

Driver took over as event director for the rally in 2005. Since then, he estimates that the rally has more than doubled in size.

“When I first started doing this, it took about three months to plan the whole thing,” he said. “Now, it’s more like 18 months. We’re already working on planning 2012.”

Driver, who also manages his own consulting firm and teaches economics at the University of Arkansas, said the time has come to turn the rally over to “fresher legs.” His resignation is effective on Dec. 31.

“Six years is long enough,” Driver said. “I’m about to turn 60, and it’s time for me to slow down a little bit.”

The event has raised more than $550,000 for local charities since its inception in 2000, much of that coming under the leadership of Driver.

On Monday Dec. 13, about $75,000 will be added to that total, when the organization announces its 2010 charitable donations at an event scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Fayetteville Town Center.

The board of directors is currently conducting a search for a new event director. Neal Crawford, vice chair of the board said that Driver will be tough to replace.

“There is a lot of pressure involved in running a rally as big as Bikes, Blues & BBQ, and Nelson has handled it extremely well,” Crawford said. “He’s built some great relationships with our sponsors and our vendors, and he really listens to the concerns of the community. He’s done it all with a smile. No question, he’s been great for this organization.”

Driver said that he’ll still attend the rally, and looks forward to enjoying Bikes, Blues & BBQ from an attendee’s perspective for a change.

“Oh, I’ll be down there,” he said. “I’m going to show up just to heckle them.”