Capps Says History, Atmosphere Make This Weekend's NHRA Ford Thunder Valley Nationals a Must-See Event
Scanning black and white photographs of Bristol Dragway a few days ago, NHRA Funny car driver and Carlsbad, Calif. native Ron Capps recalled the iconic track's history and how it influenced racers on both coasts.
"Growing up on the west coast, this is one of the places I read about it magazines," said the three-time Bristol Funny Car winner who will go for back-to-back titles at this weekend's Ford Thunder Valley Nationals. "I remember all the anticipation surrounding the track renovations (in 1997). They were moving mountains and dirt to create what is now our Bristol Dragway, and no one could wait to see how it would turn out."
Carved into the mountains of Northeast Tennessee, echoes created by the strip's unique location caught the NAPA Auto Parts driver off guard after his first run through the Valley, but he has since learned to both appreciate and utilize one of the track's most distinctive features.
"The first time we ran here I thought the car was blowing up," he said. "When things get quiet, after you pull your chutes and the car is idling at the top end, you can hear the sound of your run reverberate through the mountains for a few seconds. It's one of the coolest things for the drivers and for the fans. It creates a palpable energy, one you can feed off of. There’s just nothing like Thunder Valley."
In contrast to the electrifying energy generated by cars roaring down the quarter-mile, Capps attributes the ability to interact with fans during downtime as what makes the track a favorite among drivers and a must attend for fans.
"This place is a special blend of a modern facility that still retains elements of old school drag racing," he said. “They’ve been able to mix in campgrounds and keep the fan interaction, so at the end of the day you’re able to take your uniform off and go have a beer with the fans, eat some good food, play some cornhole and just hang out. It’s a great experience for the fans, and it’s a great experience for us to just come down, hang out and relax.”
While the history of the legendary quarter-mile factors into Capps eagerness for a fourth Bristol victory, he also recognizes the weekend’s Father’s Day connection helps elevate the level of competition.
“There are certain races and certain holidays that you seem to try a little harder to win,” said Capps, driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Funny car. “I’ve had great success at Bristol Dragway, and it was just such a special weekend to call my dad and tell him I was bringing the trophy home, as well as having my kids call and wish me a happy father’s day while I was standing in the winner’s circle.”
Tickets to experience Father’s Day Weekend at Bristol Dragway start at just $82 for the weekend or $25 for Sunday’s elimination round. For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, visit www.ThunderValleyTix.com or call (423)-BRISTOL.