Welcome to my hometown; It's Bristol baby!
By CHRIS HUDDLESTON
As a young fella growing up in Bristol, well… I imagine it was just like anywhere else. You played with your friends, your toys, and whatever else you could get your hands on. And truthfully that’s about all that mattered. That is until I went to Bristol Motor Speedway.
For me, going to the races at the age of five with my dad was like going to the toy store and instantly picking out my favorite one. My favorite “toy” was imagining that I was a race car driver like "King" Richard Petty. Growing up, he was my childhood idol. I would ride my big wheel out in my driveway, pretending I was driving on the high banks of Bristol.
I can remember as a 5 year old the majority of the drivers who were racing on that particular day. There were drivers back in the day like Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Dale Earnhardt, Benny Parsons, Darrell Waltrip, and yes “The King” just to name a few. These guys knew how to motor their way around this bullring.
I remember the days when Larry Carrier owned the facility, then sold it to Lanny Hester and Gary Baker. Later it was sold it Warner Hodgdon, followed by Larry Carrier reacquiring it. During that time I remember seeing the track progress. One of those times that I remember well was in 1978, when the decision was made to add lights at the track. If you get a chance, you should read the Bristol Motor Speedway history, and in fact, you should also watch this video.
From there we all know what transpired. Bristol became the most popular motorsports venue in NASCAR. Yes I’m partial, but Bristol still remains hottest ticket to have on the whole circuit. This track has a lot of history behind it, and I've been able to see it grow leaps and bounds.
When Bruton Smith bought this facility in 1996 for 26 million dollars, I thought man… We might loose a race date. But in typical Bruton fashion he had a vision and re-did this whole facility from top to bottom. I can remember driving by and seeing lots of steel going up, and thinking "wow!"
Today, in my opinion, Bristol Motor Speedway is the premier sporting facility in the country. Bruton Smith and his SMI staff had the vision not only for the Speedway, but also for the race fans. If there's one place on the NASCAR circuit that you need to put on your bucket list, Bristol is the place you need to visit.
If you've never seen a race live, then you need to get on the phone (1.866.415.4158) and contact the fabulous staff of the Bristol Motor Speedway. They'll hook you up with an experience you'll never forget. I promise if you come, you will leave here a fan for life; as well as a possible season ticket holder. Still after all these years, I get pumped to see all the race fans come to my town, Bristol.
I hope and pray that each and every one of you who travel to Bristol for the Food City 500 weekend has a safe trip. This is going to be a special weekend! There is so much to do not only at the track, but within our beautiful Tri Cities/Southwest Virginia area. I hope to see you at the races!
It's Bristol Baby! Just like they say at the track, “There’s racing… And then there’s Bristol!”