Speedway in Lights Sparkles to Life Nov. 13
On Friday, Nov. 13, the World's Fastest Half-Mile will once again transform into a winter wonderland, as Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) hosts The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights Powered by TVA.
Presented by Bristol Motor Speedway, The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights Powered by TVA is the largest holiday light show of its kind in the South. Now entering its 19th year, the event is a favorite for thousands of families in the region and beyond.
According to Claudia Byrd, executive director of the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities, it takes nearly 2 million lights, plus hundreds of volunteers and dedicated employees to bring the five-mile route to life.
"We're honored to be part of our region's Christmastime tradition," Byrd said. "Hundreds of people come together to volunteer, and thousands more visit and include us in their lasting memories. It's very rewarding, not only because we love to see our guests' eyes light up as they drive through the displays, but also because this event is a central source of support for thousands of children in need throughout our region."
Visitors begin their Speedway in Lights journey at the Bristol Dragway entrance just off Highway 394. The route features more than 200 individual exhibits decorating the storied banks of the half-mile track, the straightaways of Thunder Valley, and hundreds of acres of BMS property.
New for the 2015 season is the BMS Express, a collaboration between the Speedway and Northeast State Community College. Students and staff are hard at work transforming one of the track's shuttle buses into the look of a steam-powered locomotive. Once complete, the Express will offer children and families the opportunity to travel through the exhibits in a warm, indoor environment while enjoying fresh hot chocolate. Reservations for the Express can be made through the BMS Ticket Office.
Also new for this season is Jingle Bell Lane, a fast-pass option for guests with tight schedules. Available through the BMS Ticket Office, passes to Jingle Bell Lane allow cars to move to the head of the line. Passes are $40 per car and $55 per van, with available dates including Nov. 27-28, and Dec. 5, 12, 18-23 and 26.
Byrd notes that the route through the grounds has been changed slightly to allow for ongoing construction. "We had to make a couple small changes because we're building Colossus, an amazing new digital display and sound system that will be ready for April 2016. But rest assured, everyone's favorite displays are included and the route is actually a little longer now," she said. "Additionally, in honor of all those who have served in our armed forces and emergency services, we've built a new large-scale American flag display in the Dragway grandstands."
Returning favorite displays include Dueling Dragsters; The Twelve Days of Christmas; Dinosaur Village; Ripley's Penguin Playhouse, and; Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Visitors will also be treated to the Subway® Symphony of Lights, a dazzling exhibit that boasts more than 300,000 LED lights synchronized to music. The radiant colors from this ever-changing display are reflected in the Darrell Waltrip Grandstand, which includes more than three acres of aluminum seating.
A favorite viewing station for the Subway® Symphony of Lights is Christmas Village, located in the infield. Offering something for all ages, this family-friendly area features food options, hot chocolate, and fire pits for roasting marshmallows. Christmas Village also provides guests an opportunity to visit Santa Claus and enjoy a variety of carnival rides.
For those seeking more holiday-themed transportation through the exhibits, Santa's Speedway Sleigh presented by Dollywood returns for its sixth season. This decorated, open-air tram gives riders a guided trek in which they can have their picture taken for a commemorative keepsake, courtesy of Walgreens, enjoy hot chocolate and hot cider, and receive a free bag of marshmallows to roast over the fire pits during a 30-minute stop in Christmas Village.
Towed by a Chevy truck, the sleigh can accommodate up to 30 passengers per trip. The sleigh departs from the boarding station located at the O. Bruton Smith (OBS) building every Wednesday and Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 each and may be purchased at the OBS ticket office. Groups can reserve the entire sleigh but are asked to call in advance. Parking is located in front of the OBS office building and is accessed by entering at the North Entrance and taking the immediate right up the hill.
Admission to The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights Powered by TVA, open Nov. 13 through Jan. 2, is $12 for cars Sunday through Thursday, and $15 for cars Friday and Saturday. Activity vans are $20 each and buses are $85. The event is open daily from 6p.m.-10 p.m., including Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Shoppers who visit Pinnacle retail locations starting Nov. 13 can bring a register receipt to the Speedway in Lights entrance booth for a Monday visit and receive a $2 discount, per vehicle.
No trip to Speedway in Lights is complete without stopping by the Ice Rink, presented by HVAC Inc. One of the Speedway's most popular non-motorsports-related events, the Ice Rink is the only rink within a 90-minute driving radius of BMS. Located just inside the north entrance of Bristol Motor Speedway, off Volunteer Parkway (Hwy. 11E), it is just $5 for skaters to take to the ice. There is an additional $2 charge for skate rental. The rink closes each Monday for maintenance.
A portion of the proceeds from Speedway in Lights benefits the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities. Since its inception in 1996, the Bristol Chapter has raised more than $9 million for area child-based charities. In 2014, the chapter distributed $749,000 to a record-breaking 88 regional children's agencies.
For more information on Speedway in Lights, including the season's schedule, admission pricing, and promotional guidelines, visit speedwayinlights.org or call 423-989-6900.