The NASCAR SPRINT CUP AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
The NASCAR Sprint Cup at Bristol Motor Speedway, which happens March 20, has a new name this year in honor of Jeff Byrd, who was President and General Manager of the Bristol Motor Speedway for 15 years, until his death last October. Jeff Byrd was widely respected not just in Bristol and other nearby communities, but by NASCAR drivers and fans everywhere. The race has been known as the Food City 500 for 20 year, but Steven C. Smith, President and CEO of Food City wanted this race to honor Jeff Byrd.
Some NASCAR greats were present for the announcement of the name change: Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace. Waltrip’s tribute, quoted from the Half Mile Heat Race Magazine for March 2011, was eloquent. “One Driver is going to have the opportunity to do something no other driver will have an opportunity to do …to win a race here in honor of Jeff Byrd.” Rusty Wallace said, “Jeff was so special to so many people…I’m so excited we’re going to have this race named after Jeff. I want to thank the people from Food City for doing this. He is a great guy. I wish I was still driving so I could win that race.”
As all NASCAR races here do, this one will attract thousands of race fans to Bristol. It is good to make lodging reservations early as the most desirable accommodations are gone early. Many people rent their homes to race fans, some with long-term corporate accounts. Camp grounds start filling early as people come early and stay late – partly to get a place and partly to enjoy other area tourist attractions. And fields that are not normally camp grounds change for the occasion.
The web site, www.BristolMotorSpeedway.com has schedules, events, tickets, photos, news.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the BMS track and the celebration will include special events and a posters honoring some of the greats racers. Two of many events this weekend are the following:
March 18 – Richard Petty Driving Experience Ride-Along program – another fund raiser for Speeday Children’s Charity. A few fans will get to speed around the track three times, for $149.
March 19 - Speedway Children’s Charity Track Walk will be held Saturday.
Even those of us who are not race fans enjoy BMS’s Christmas lights program and the chance to drive around the track while the light show is going on.
This is NOT a good time to look for houses near BMS, although fans who come for the races do often explore the possibility of moving here to enjoy also the other advantages of Northeast Tennessee.