Race Week Tips From Race Fans
When it comes to Bristol’s August Race Week, our fans have great advice and insider tips. We asked our BMS Fan Advisory Board to share their list of fan “must-dos” to make your trip complete. Scroll through the list and make sure you are part of all the fun!
FAN RELATIONS BRUTON SMITH BLDG./CUSTOMER SERVICE
One thing we always do, is visit the Bruton Smith Building. The ability for the common fan to have access to BMS staff is very nice and something you will not find at other tracks.
Visit Fan Relations in the Bruton Smith Building. Amazing how the staff interacts with race fans and makes us feel like family – sets Bristol apart from all other tracks – and sporting venues for that matter.
Make sure you stop by the Bruton Smith Building -- awesome souvenir store, fan relations and great people. Bristol’s interaction with fans is second-to-none.
You gotta stop by the Bruton Smith Building. Almost guaranteed that you’ll meet Bristol staff, great shopping opportunity and you’ll feel like you’re a part of the family. The staff is so friendly and so willing to help with any questions/issues you might have.
Take your time, talk to people and enjoy being there. The staff goes above and beyond to make you feel “at home.”
We always visit the Guest Services kiosks. A great source of fan information.
Don’t miss the Ford NASCAR Transporter Parade! It is a must. And going into the track to watch the drivers park them is awesome!
Hauler parade - no other words needed.
Hauler Parade -- never seen anything like it. Worth coming into town early for.
Go behind the scenes and visit Bristol Mall on Thursday where the haulers assemble before the parade. You may even get to meet hauler drivers, and if you’re real lucky, you might a behind the scenes hauler tour. I did and it was something I’ll always remember.
Make the parade part of your week, but not just the parade. Visit the staging area at Bristol Mall. New or old fans, you’ll have great opportunities for photos, meet and greets with hauler drivers and plenty of fun.
The hauler parade - this is a cool deal; and it's fun to go out to the mall in the daytime and see the crews (supplemented I'm sure by local help) shine the trucks to where they are spotless.
The Hauler Parade (and the staging at the Bristol Mall). Stop by the mall in the afternoon to see the haulers and chat with some of the transporter drivers. Most are more than willing to chat. Take the free shuttle to Food City Race Night, and then hang out at the corner of State Street and Commonwealth Avenue to watch the parade pass by.
Watch the hauler parade from close to the Speedway (like really close). Then head to Gate 10 and they will let you into the grandstands so you can watch the haulers park in the infield. It’s a WOW moment for sure!
The Hauler Parade is not to be missed. It’s so much fun to see all of the haulers coming down both sides of the street. The rigs are shined up and looking great. We go to Bristol Mall during the afternoon, hit Food City Race Night and then find a spot near the track to watch the parade roll by. Our week is complete on this day. The racing is just a bonus.
If you’ve seen the parade before, take it up a notch by watching the haulers park in the Speedway. They open Gate 10 for fans around 9 PM and seeing those haulers park is amazing. It’ll give you a whole new behind the scenes appreciation.
Never, ever miss the hauler parade.
We love watching the big rigs drive down Volunteer Parkway on their way to the track. It's a great way for the fans to let not just the drivers, but the teams the hauler drivers and all know we appreciate all they do. I'm sure they love hearing the fans cheer as they go driving by.
THE TRACK / RACING
Arrive early! Make a walk to the track to see it before the stands fill up. We walk to the highest point in the track (Wallace Tower) and then we go down to the fence. The perspective of this place is simply amazing.
Bring your camera. Bring your video camera. Take lots, and lots of pictures. There is no place in the world like Bristol.
Hands down, the best racing you’ll ever see. Anywhere. Period.
Shame on you if you’re not in your seats when you hear those famous words, “Drivers, start your engines.” Been to a lot of tracks, but it never sounds as sweet as it sounds at Bristol.
Night racing at Bristol. No need to say anything else.
Be there on Wednesday night. The Whelen Mods and Trucks put on an incredible show.
Make sure you hear the engines start up for the first time. It’ll get your blood pumping and ready.
Be there (if you can) on Wednesday night. The Camping World Truck Series and the Whelen Modifieds put on the best night of racing you’ll see anywhere, anytime.
The IRWIN Tools Night Race… that’s all I’m saying. Best. Ever.
At some point in time during practice or maybe even during the races, go sit in the very first row. Then make a hike to the highest row you can find and take in the extreme differences in views that Bristol offers. It’s a small track, but wow, the different views will rock your senses.
Take in all of the displays in the area behind Allison Grandstand (we always manage to take home some great samples and give-aways) and shop all of the souvenir haulers. Make sure you ask to see if a driver will be appearing at the haulers. We got some great autographs last year – unexpectedly.
Don’t miss Wednesday’s races. It’s the highlight of the week when it comes to on-track action.
Hit the track early on Friday. You get practice and qualifying. It’s so great hearing the drivers and teams on my scanner doing all they can to get their cars ready for the races. You’ll never hear/see this kind of stuff on TV.
Anytime I visit any track, the first thing I do is walk to the top of the track a take in the view. I may have already seen the track on TV but I want to get "the feeling" before the masses arrive. Get there early and drink in the feeling of what is to come!
Walk down to the fence before the race to get a close look at your favorite driver's car. Even if you're up in higher rows, take the time before the race and walk down to the fence and experience NASCAR up close.
Stay beyond the end of the race and listen to the driver interviews. Most people sprint for the exits at the checkered flag and some even leave early! This is Bristol! Home of great finishes and drivers often have entertaining things to say after the race.
Bring hearing protection! After 500 laps your head will be spinning without it. However, I do suggest for the first few laps unplug your ears and hear the power of 43 race cars at Bristol. You’ll never experience anything like it.
The venue… there’s just nothing like it. Take it all in.
Eat BBQ at Ridgewood! It’s one of the best BBQ joints in the country. And you’ll never know who you'll see there either.
Ridgewood Barbeque is a must. Enough said.
Hit the Burger Bar just off State Street in downtown Bristol. A great hole-in-the-wall joint with great food.
Test your parking skills and nerve getting BBQ at Ridgewood. It’s off the beat path, but well worth your trip. Just commit and go get it.
Close to the track, great food. We always hit The Mad Greek. Likely not your typical race week food, but food you’ll appreciate.
Best sandwiches and more near the race track, we never miss Simply Delicious. We’ve even seen some race teams and BMS staff in there. They have a Jeff Byrd platter – I always now get that in honor of Jbyrd.
Hit State Street in downtown Bristol. Lots of unique food and music. Just go, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Take a drive to Kingsport and visit Pratt’s. Only about 15 minutes from the track. It’ll be worth the trip.
Yes, visit Ridgewood BBQ and enjoy it. But make sure you get the Blue Cheese and Crackers – it’s a must!
You’ll not find a better place to eat than Cootie Browns in Johnson City. It’s a great place for kids, too. Their décor is unique, the menu is incredible (wide-open) the food is great and the desserts are big.
Shop at Food City. I like the feeling of supporting those that support racing at Bristol Motor Speedway. They always have what I need; and a lot of stuff I don’t need – but I get it anyway! Hit their bakery/deli – you won’t be disappointed
Hit State Street in Downtown Bristol; and if you want a great day-trip, visit Abingdon, Va., -- about 25 minutes north of the track off I-81; or Jonesborough, Tenn., just outside of Johnson City (30 minutes away from track). All are great shopping districts with many unique stores; antiques and more.
PRE-RACE / DRIVER INTROS
Don’t miss driver intros. There’s nothing like it. Hands-down, Bristol has the best driver intros in all of NASCAR. Be in your seats no later than 6 PM to catch all the pre-race fun.
I love the patriotism Bristol shows in their pre-race. I always love Singing along with Lee Greenwood as I watch the skydiver float down with the American Flag to the track! Because I am proud to be an American and part of the Bristol Nation.
Gotta love the driver intros with drivers coming in to their own music. Love seeing the driver personalities.
Never miss the opening ceremonies for the night race. From the skydiver with the flag, to the drivers picking their own intro music to the drivers’ kids singing the National Anthem. I don’t miss one thing.
If you miss Bristol’s pre-race… you should have your tickets revoked. The whole pre-race is a must, but the tradition of the skydiver flying in to the music of God Bless The USA is something you cannot miss.
FOOD CITY RACE NIGHT / DRIVER Q&A SESSIONS
Hit Food City Race Night – from current stars to NASCAR legends, you never know who you’ll see. Plus all the great music, food and fun make it a must on Thursday at Bristol.
Hard to imagine all that they pack into Food City Race Night. Drivers, concerts, free food samples and so much more. Food City takes it over the top with this event on State Street.
Add a driver Q&A session to your weekend. We did the Jeff Gordon one last August, and took our son to the one last March at the Kids Zone.
Attend the autograph sessions of the drivers, whether it is at the merchandise haulers or Ford Fan Day. Meet the guys who make Bristol the race to see!
AREA / REGION
Getting your picture made under the Bristol TN, VA sign downtown
Bristol. Show your friends what they missed!
Check out the big guitar at the Bristol Chamber – one of many great photo opportunities while you’re here in Bristol.
A better option for March, but something you can visit Bristol for anytime. Carter Fold, about an hour away from the track near Hiltons, Va., offers some of the best “downhome” music you’ll ever hear.
A great park to visit is Natural Tunnel State Park in Virginia. It's probably 60-75 minutes from Bristol Speedway. You take a chairlift down to the tunnel, which was naturally carved by the waters of Stock Creek. The tunnel is so large that the railroad goes through it. It's really beautiful & unique.
For someone looking for some physical activity and incredible scenery should check out doing a bike ride in Damascus, Va., about 45 minutes north of the track off I-81. You can rent bikes, then having the rental van take us to White Top Mtn. for the 17-mile coast downhill on the Virginia Creeper Trail.
Kingsport has Bays Mtn. Park natural area with a small lake, planetarium, a wild animal zoo, and more.
A couple of great-kept secrets nearby the track are Bristol Caverns and Appalachian Caverns. A great get-away for a day trip while at Bristol.
Just take a ride on the regional back roads around Bristol. And take your camera!
CAMPING / FRIENDS / RELATIONSHIPS
Love kicking back at my campsite after the Nationwide and Cup races and see all the campers set off the luminaries into the air. It’s just plain neat.
Don’t overlook the option of staying at a bed and breakfast or in a rental home. We did it 15 years ago or so, and we continue to do so. Now our hosts are like members of our family. We are Facebook friends and stay in touch. What started as, "We have tickets now where do we stay," turned into two race weekends with friends and great racing.
If you have one and you can, bring (or ride) your motorcycle to Bristol. Scenery and back roads is second to none.
Just visit with fellow race fans! Over the years we have met quite a few race fans, many we now consider family. Some are there for the first time, some come back every year, some come back for both, and some are hit or miss. Some we only talk to that one time, some we talk to during race weeks and some we occasionally talk to in between, but we love them all and race week wouldn't be the same without them. We have brought many people to their first Bristol race and not one of them has left the track without saying they want to come back, and we are bringing some first timers again this year, I'm certain they will love it and want to come back too.
It costs a little bit… but you’ll never regret it… Do the Richard Petty Driving Experience ride-alongs on Thursday night. No words can describe it. It’ll give you a whole new appreciation for what the drivers do on the track.
Get the Track Tour for Speedway Children’s Charities. You won’t believe that banking until you walk on it.
MUSIC / ENTERTAINMENT
We enjoy the concerts at Earhart Campground. Always some great “Bristol” music.
Lots of music in the area – be it on State Street at Food City Race Night, the GAC Stage on Saturday at BMS or Earhart Campground, there’s always plenty of music in the “Birthplace of Country Music.”
We love going to the SPEED Stage behind the Frontstretch grandstands. That’s always a hoot. Fans young and old turn out with their signs and get to see some great personalities and it’s very entertaining.
Beware of the speeding/traffic cameras in Piney Flats near Pardner’s BBQ. Stay under 45 mph when passing through there.
It’s August… Hydrate! Drink plenty of water.
Walk the campgrounds and check out all the cool and creative ways that fans setup their homes for race week.
Get to the track early! There is so much to do and see.
Hit the merchandise/souvenir haulers and the vendor display area behind Allison Grandstand. Tons of fun walking around whether you buy or browse.
Hit the campgrounds and especially visit Earhart and Jelloville – great group of people that know the Bristol way of life.
Hang around in the track if ya want after the IRWIN Tools Night Race… But we love getting out and watching the fireworks after the race. It’s the 4th of July, Christmas and New Year’s Eve all-wrapped up into one when come to a race at Bristol.