Bristol Motor Speedway is known as the home to big events; NASCAR All-Star Race adds to the legacy of The Last Great Colosseum
When sports fans think of big events, one mega structure multi-use sports and entertainment venue sitting amid the rolling hills of northeastern Tennessee immediately comes to mind: Bristol Motor Speedway.
Home to epic NASCAR races and other major motorsports events, as well as NFL and college football games, a wide variety of music concerts and other captivating events, Bristol Motor Speedway has shined in the spotlight on many occasions throughout the years.
On Wednesday night, July 15, 2020, The Last Great Colosseum as it is known worldwide, will host its latest marquee billboard event, the prestigious NASCAR All-Star Race.
And when the green flag drops for that classic affair with so much history and tradition, NASCAR Nation can expect one thing: drama and excitement that will put fans on the edge of their seats until the checkered flag waves and a thrilling finish unfolds.
When 19 of the most decorated NASCAR Cup Series drivers, most of them past champions, multi-time winners and future hall of famers, hit the storied all-concrete high banks at the World's Fastest Half-Mile, sparks are sure to fly. Tempers will flare. And at the end of the night, someone is going to receive the signature NASCAR All-Star Race trophy and add a nice pile of cash to his bank account.
"Bristol Motor Speedway has always been known for producing unique events," said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager, Bristol Motor Speedway. "You think of dirt, you think of football and now the NASCAR All-Star Race is coming to The Last Great Colosseum for the first time. It's that type of event. Night racing at Bristol with no points on the line and $1 million up for grabs, you will want to be here to see it. And who knows, it may never happen here again."
The NASCAR All-Star race certainly falls in line with some of the biggest events ever held at the iconic venue.
Perhaps one of the biggest events in Bristol Motor Speedway history took place in September 2016 during the Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol college football game between the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech. After more than two years of promotion, amazing hype and incredible anticipation, the Volunteers defeated the Hokies 45-24 on that magical night where an NCAA-record crowd of 159,990 attend the game. BMS officials, along with a host of highly skilled vendors, changed the Speedway over to an incredible state-of-the-art football stadium in only 18 days. The game, which featured a highly-praised National Anthem performance by Jennifer Nettles, aired on ESPN as their main Saturday night feature game and drew incredible ratings.
All totaled, BMS has hosted three football games in its existence. In addition to the Battle at Bristol, an NFL pre-season game featuring the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins was held in the track's infield in 1961. The Eagles won the game 17-10 in front of a crowd estimated at 8,500. The weekend following the Battle at Bristol, the track hosted the Food City Bucs at Bristol, a game featuring the nearby East Tennessee State University Buccaneers vs. the visiting Western Carolina Catamounts. ETSU set a home game attendance record at nearly 14,000 and were able to stage a late game rally to take the victory over WCU, 34-31.
The day before the Battle at Bristol, BMS hosted the Honda Ridgeline Tailgate Party, a huge country music concert featuring Kenny Chesney, The Band Perry and Old Dominion. All three groups have local ties to the Bristol region, which is also widely known as The Birthplace of Country Music following the famed 1927 Bristol Sessions. Nearly 50,000 fans flocked to BMS to enjoy a night of music before the game.
Back in 2000, BMS undertook another feat that many said could not be done. Track officials converted the race track into a modern dirt facility and hosted two consecutive weekends of premier dirt track racing, including one with the popular World of Outlaws Series. Crews spent two weeks laying down the clay, some 14,000 truckloads to be exact, to solidly pack in the track foundation. The dirt racing at BMS was such a huge success that track officials decided to bring the concept back the next year.
Following the NASCAR All-Star race in July, BMS will continue its BIG event theme in September when the NASCAR Cup Series presents the first ever Playoff race at Thunder Valley. The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, Sept. 19 is guaranteed to be another major event that will be added to Bristol lore. The race is scheduled to be the cut-off race of NASCAR's Round of 16 in the Playoffs. Four drivers' 2020 championship dreams will end that night after what's sure to be a grueling race of 500 laps under the lights at BMS.
"We know the NASCAR All-Star race is going to be a huge event, but we also can't wait to see what unfolds here during the first ever NASCAR Playoff race," Caldwell said. "Fans have wanted to see Bristol in the Playoffs for many years now and this year they will finally get their chance to see all the thrilling and dramatic plot twists and turns that take center stage under the lights at The Last Great Colosseum. It's another event that's going to instantly add to Bristol's reputation as a place where Wow moments are the norm, rather than the exception."
For ticket information to the NASCAR All-Star Race and the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, please visit www.bristolmotorspeedway.com/tickets.