Bob Vick: "It's Not Just A Race… It's The Place"
When you hear the word, instinctively you start to smile.
Home is the one place where everything's right with the world.
It's where you're secure and know that you belong.
Dorothy reminds us there's no place like it.
Webster says it's a place where people are cared for.
And whoever first said 'Home is where the heart is' captured untold emotions with that simple phrase.
That's precisely why it's so humbling to hear our fan family tell us to them, Bristol is home.
For Bob Vick, attending NASCAR race weekends at Bristol Motor Speedway is a family affair. He'll be here in August with his daughter and the rest of his family.
"It has become more of a homecoming for us. We don't live up here close anymore, we live down in Morristown, Tennessee but, for the last 15 years, we've had basically the same group of people we've camped around and the same group of people that come and this is coming home."
Vick's been attending NASCAR races for years, but recalls feeling something special about Bristol Motor Speedway from the very start.
"Well the first time I came was, I believe 1969 or 1970. Charlie Glotzbach won the race so we can look back and see. It was something like I had never seen before. Growing up around Charlotte, I saw races but I never got to see any of the NASCAR guys," he explained.
"Coming up here and seeing it for the first time, it blew me away. But back then this place was so different. There was a huge grass hill out of what is now Turn 3. You had the concrete bleachers and the other side looked like the Visitors side at any high school football stadium. They were the wooden bleachers with metal and there weren't very many of them. When Bruton bought the racetrack and started that evolution for what we have now it just blew me away," Vick continued, referencing the purchase of Bristol Motor Speedway by Speedway Motorsports Exec. Chairman O. Bruton Smith.
Vick wasn't the member of his family impressed by facility upgrades over the years.
"My dad had not been to the racetrack in probably 25 or 30 years and when they just got the Kulwicki Tower finished, we started at the bottom, walked up all the stairs and came out at the first Mezzanine and he was absolutely blown away. He said, 'I cannot believe this is the same place.' "
For the Vick family, there's no other place like 'his' NASCAR home, Bristol Motor Speedway. Bob gets a little animated at the suggestion some fans might opt not to attend the IRWIN Tools Night Race in just a few weeks.
"You can't give me a valid reason for not coming here. The people, the experience inside the racetrack, the noise, the feeling, the smells, it's like no other place that you'll ever go! No other racetrack has the way the seating is set up, has the bowl effect and you get to feel everything. You're not going to get that at any other racetrack I've been to - and I've been to almost all of them that NASCAR runs on - and that's something that's here and the people make it so special and there's so much to do."
Vick chuckles at the thought that a trip to Bristol is just about the on-track action.
"There's not another racetrack that puts on the show around the show," he explained. "For us, it's become a great big party and a family reunion and oh yeah, we have a couple of races we get to go watch."
Pressed to describe why he insists on making Bristol race weekends a priority on his family calendar, Vick became quiet for a few moments. Less animated, but no less convicted in what he was saying, he searched for the best way to say it.
"The racings incredible but that's not the reason we all come. It's the people. The people are… you become like… You're one big family, all watching the same…," he said and then paused.