Food City 500 weekend an East Tennessee family reunion for fans
As the beautiful April weather descends upon East Tennessee, it means only one thing: the Food City 500 race weekend is here.
This weekend, April 15-17, Bristol Motor Speedway is home to a family reunion, welcoming NASCAR fans both experienced and new. Guests from all 50 states and more than 20 foreign countries are making their way to the Last Great Colosseum to experience the best that NASCAR has to offer.
"Bristol Motor Speedway is an unforgettable getaway," said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. "Our guests are not just fans, they're family. It's wonderful to see so many familiar faces in April and our whole team looks forward to meeting all the new faces as well this weekend."
Highlights of the weekend include:
Thursday, April 14: The annual SCC dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. in the third floor banquet room of The Bruton Smith Building. NASCAR Hall of Famer and current FOX announcer Darrell Waltrip, PRN announcer Brad Gillie and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan will entertain and host the evening's festivities. Please contact Betsy Holleman at (423) 989-6975 for details and to reserve a space.
Later that night, Track Laps presented by NN Inc. will be held at 7 and 8 p.m. For $35, guests can drive their own vehicle around the World's Fastest Half Mile for five laps. Additionally, fans can get their picture taken in victory lane for an extra $10. Guests are asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to their session time.
Friday, April 15: It is your first chance to see the stars of NASCAR on track. Friday action includes Bush's Beans Pole Day and practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and practice for the K&N Pro Series East. Practice for the NSCS Food City 500 is scheduled for 11 a.m. with knockout qualifying at 4:15 p.m. NASCAR XFINITY Series practice for the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. while PittLite 125 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East practice is at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. with qualifying at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for Bush's Beans Pole Day are available for only $20.
Friday also provides the first opportunity for the public to see Colossus TV, one of the biggest fan enhancements in sports. The display, the world's largest, outdoor, center-hung, 4-sided video display, is the equivalent of a three-story house and will provide the ultimate viewing experience for guests. Best of all, the display will not block the sightlines of any seat inside the Last Great Colosseum.
Not only does Colossus TV provide an upgrade in video quality, it provides a major upgrade in sound. The massive, state-of-the-art sound system features more than a half-million watts powering over 480 speakers. The maximum theoretical volume is about the same as a jet on takeoff. In contrast, the old system hosted 2,400 watts and 18 speakers.
Food City Race Night, one of the largest fan festivals on the circuit, will be held from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. The night includes driver autograph sessions, interactive games, music stages and more.
In addition, qualifying for the SCC's Meade Tractor Cornhole Classic will take place at Noon in the Fan Zone. Cost is $40 to enter per team and guests can register at www.bristol.speedwaycharities.org or on site, pending available spaces.
The official Spring Race 5K will also take place on Friday at 8:30 p.m. It is the first race of a three-race series for BMS in 2016. Guests will be able to take in the sights and sounds of Food City Race Night, BMS campgrounds and go for a lap around the Last Great Colosseum. Registration is $25 at www.bristol.speedwaycharities.org.
The night ends with Half-Mile Hot Laps driven by Seat Time Racing School. Guests who want to experience the thrill of top speeds around BMS will want to check this out. Experiences will be set up on track from 9:30 - 11:30 p.m. Interested guests should visit www.seattimeracingschool.com for more information. A portion of the proceeds will benefit SCC.
Kids will want to check out the free, interactive Kids Zone from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Activities, for children 15 and under, includes inflatables, a rock wall, zip line, euro bungee, cornhole, face painting and a coloring station located in the Fan Zone (near the large lighted Bristol Motor Speedway sign).
Saturday, April 16: It's race day for competitors of the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 and PittLite 125. In addition, NASCAR Sprint Cup series drivers will finish up their practice for the Food City 500 with sessions at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series goes green at 12:30 p.m. with a new format for the "Dash 4 Cash". Featuring two 50-lap Heats and a 200-lap Main, it's going to truly be a "Rumble at the Colosseum". The top two XFINITY regulars from each Heat will be eligible for the $100,000 bonus in the Main event. It's important to keep the car damage free as backup cars can't be used between a Heat and the Main event. The second heat is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. with the Main tentatively scheduled for 1:45 p.m. The winner of the Main event will leave with one of the most unique prizes in NASCAR, a Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 "Rumble at the Colosseum" championship belt.
Following the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300, the future stars of NASCAR take to the track in the PittLite 125 with the green flag at 4:30 p.m. Tickets for Saturday's doubleheader start at only $40 for adults.
If you are a fan of country music, Clare Dunn is right up your alley. Dunn, who is best known for her hits "Movin' On" and "Tuxedo", will sing the national anthem prior to the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 and will also perform a concert on the Ole Smoky Roof at Turn 4 between the NXS race and the PittLite 125.
A second qualifying session of the Meade Tractor Cornhole Classic will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. Kids Zone hours will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Country music recording artist Lance Stinson will close the night with a concert at 6:15 p.m. at the Fan Zone stage.
On Saturday night, BMS will honor Jeff Gordon and unveil a plaque at Legends Plaza, located at the front entrance of The Bruton Smith Building. The ceremony honoring the five-time Bristol winner will begin at 6:30 p.m. and fans are encouraged to join.
Sunday, April 17: It's time for the main event, the Food City 500! The stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series attempt to tame the World's Fastest Half-Mile.
Race festivities begin with the pre-race concert featuring the Doobie Brothers at 11:20 a.m. Known for their hits "Black Water", "Jesus is Just Alright" and "Rockin' Down the Highway" among others, the Doobie Brothers are an American institution and an act you won't want to miss. Fans can purchase a Pre-Race SuperPass and be stage-side (on the track) for the concert. The SuperPass also includes a Track Walk and track access for Bristol's wildly popular driver introductions.
Driver introductions for the Food City 500 begin at 12:20 p.m. as drivers walk out to a song of their request. It's one of the most interactive driver intros on the circuit! And for 2016, the intros will feature the booming voice of professional wrestler Goldberg. Be sure to catch honorary race official Peyton Manning during driver intros as he appears with fellow Nationwide spokesman Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Renowned recording artist Lee Greenwood will be on hand to sing his biggest hit "God Bless the USA" and get the crowd in a patriotic mood. The presentation of the nation's colors will be performed by the Tennessee Army National Guard while the invocation will be given by Mike Rife of Vansant Church of Christ in Vansant, Va.
During Greenwood's performance, fans will be in for a treat as Challenger takes to the skies. Challenger is a non-releasable Bald Eagle cared for by the American Eagle Foundation and based out of Dollywood in nearby Pigeon Forge, Tenn. He is the first Bald Eagle in American history trained to free-fly in stadiums and arenas during the "Star Spangled Banner" and other patriotic songs.
Fans will want to be sure to keep their eyes to the sky during the National Anthem as two A-10 Thunderbolt II's, from the 74th Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga, perform the flyover. More commonly known as the "Warthog", the A-10 was first used in combat during the Gulf War and is the only United States Air Force production-built aircraft designed solely for close air support, including attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets.
Just after 1 p.m., the sounds of engines will roar to life with the "Drivers, Start your Engines" command. After a few pace laps, the green flag will be waved and one of the greatest spectacles in sports will begin. Fans cheer as their favorite gladiators attempts to tackle 500 laps on one of the most physically demanding tracks in NASCAR.
Be sure to pick up a souvenir program, available for $10 throughout the weekend, to commemorate your trip.
Tickets for the Food City 500 are still available, starting at just $69. Visit BristolTix.com or call (855) 580-5525.
About Bristol Motor Speedway
Nestled in the mountains of northeast Tennessee near the Virginia state line, Bristol Motor Speedway is a 0.533-mile concrete oval race track with 28-degree corner banking, 650-feet straightaways and a 40-foot wide racing surface. Renowned as The World's Fastest Half-Mile, the short track features two races each year from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series, one Monster Truck event and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N Pro Series-East race.
With a crowd capacity in excess of 150,000, the facility is expected to set a new NCAA college football attendance record on Sept. 10, 2016, when the racetrack transforms into a football stadium for the Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol, playing host to border rivals, the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech. The speedway property is also home to Bristol Dragway.
The historic drag strip celebrates its 51st anniversary this year, headlines with the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals and operates more than 70 event days each season. In 2015, the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities, a 501©(3) nonprofit organization, awarded a record-breaking $805,900 to regional children's charities bringing their 18-year total to nearly $10 million in grants.
In existence since 1961, Bristol Motor Speedway was purchased in 1996 by Speedway Motorsports, Inc. a publicly traded company that is a leading marketer and promoter of motorsports entertainment in the United States. For more information, visit the company's website at bristolmotorspeedway.com.