Spring 2012 and Bristol Motor Speedway
It's Race Time in Tennessee...
You can generally tell it’s springtime in east Tennessee when the crowds start gathering in the many campgrounds that surround BMS or Bristol Motor Speedway about this time each year. About ten to twelve days before the first scheduled race each season we hear of the first of the faithful race fans rolling into one of the many favored awaiting slots eager to set up their temporary ‘home site’ in anticipation of the area’s first appointed spring race at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile Oval and one of the most popular racetracks on the NASCAR circuit. If you’re into racin’, you’ve no doubt been to Bristol. Upwards to 160,000 loyal fans plan this trip at least once a year and often two times as the most notable drivers assemble for the early spring and late summer events annually at BMS.
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For over fifty years now the whole of upper east Tennessee and southwest Virginia gear up for the treasured events. Each major cities local WalMart parking lots are graced with the drivers and their race cars drawing enthused fans and their families hoping for a picture with their favorite driver and auto be it Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Carl Edwards or maybe Tony Stewart who won just last weekend in Las Vegas. The local merchants love the income generated by the many fans and endure the noise and rivalries during the festive atmosphere accompanying Race Week.
This race at Bristol officially opens the short track season for all of racing. One reason the short track is so popular is that the grandstands are as close as possible to all the action on the track. The guy that’s won the most times at Bristol is a featured historian and spokesman for the Bristol oval, Darrell Waltrip. When recently asked about this week‘s historical event and the action a sightseer might expect, the NASCAR Hall of Fame driver solemnly replied, “If you have four wheels and most of the fenders on the car, you’ll probably have a pretty good day.” noting that the winner’s car at Bristol usually looks worse than those of the teams he just beat.
"There's Racin' and then there's Bristol..."
The excitement is building and the time is short but I believe you still have time to witness this year’s event. The local TV stations have featured the clean-up and preparation at the track nightly on the news and the restaurants are already featuring special enticements to lure in the crowds that are already showing up. The motels and hotels are filling up fast as are the campsites and the racin’ fever is already in the air. It is said that by tomorrow night one will not be able to find a room between Roanoke VA and Knoxville TN if it’s anything like past race weekends. Many local people even rent out their homes and week end lake or mountain cabins for this event to interested and trusted race fans and their families from around the country, and in the all familiar words of David Keith, the famous Hollywood actor that always promotes RaceWeek at BMS. “There’s racin’ and then there’s Bristol…”
© 2012 SamSonS