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Archive for March, 2009

Boogity Boogity Boogity, Let’s Go Racing Boys!

by on Mar.26, 2009, under Richard Bingle

You may have noticed from past posts that I’m a NASCAR fan. Well, last weekend I had the opportunity to attend both the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series races at one of the most celebrated NASCAR tracks in the country — Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.


Bristol Motor Speedway is known as the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile”. Cars make a lap at this high-banked coliseum style racetrack in under 20 seconds and the leaders are often coming up on lapped traffic within 10 to 15 laps after a restart. The high speeds, tight quarters, and the tactic of using the front bumper to clear a path to the checkered flag, have caused the Cup Series races to have sold out the last 56 straight times.

One of the guys on my team at work, Randy Tank, managed to score some tickets to the Spring Sprint Cup race this year and had an extra one. He wisely offered that extra ticket to me and I jumped at the chance in a heartbeat. As the drive up to Tennessee from Florida was about 11 hours (and I’d be driving that alone as Randy was going to be driving down from his new home in Wisconsin), I figured I might as well make a full weekend of it and bought myself a ticket to Saturday Nationwide race as well. One of the guys I play games with on XBox Live, Joe Lawson, was kind enough to let me spend Friday and Saturday night at his place in Virginia about an hour from the track, so with tickets in hand and a place to stay, I was set for some racing!

I ended up getting to the track a little later than I had anticipated on Saturday morning (I had to walk over a mile from where I parked) and missed most of the Nationwide qualifying, but was able to see both of the Sprint Cup practice sessions. BMS is so small that half of the pit stalls are on the backstretch, but lucky for me all the Cup cars used the front pit area (but not the actual pit stalls) during the practice sessions so I had a great view of all 43 of the cars from the seat I was to have for the Nationwide race later that afternoon (between the start/finish line and pit road exit and high enough to have an unobstructed view of pretty much the whole track) and a great view of Jeff Gordon’s #24 Dupont Chevy.


I knew that the speeds would be fast and that it would be very loud (it’s often referred to as “Thunder Valley”), but I was still surprised when practice started and the first cars roared onto the track. The first few cars were already at full speed and completing their first practice lap before the fifteenth car was able to pull off of pit road, and the sound level was literally deafening!

I thoroughly enjoyed both practice sessions and spent some of the time between them walking along the fence down along the front stretch taking pictures.

The Nationwide race was a lot of fun. I was rooting for Kenny Wallace and against Kyle Busch, so was pretty happy that Kenny managed to stay on the lead lap and finish a respectable fourteenth and that Kyle had the chance for a win disappear when his crew let a tire get away on the last pit stop, giving Kevin Harvick the win.

After the Nationwide race there was a special “Legends” race with some of the true past legends of the sport like Junior Johnson, Harry Gant, Cale Yarborough mixing it up on the high-banks for a 50 lap race. My pick to win, Rusty Wallace, finished a close second to winner Sterling Marlin (who would also race in Sunday’s Cup race but not fare nearly as well).

Our tickets for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race were about a quarter of the way up in the entrance to turn four. Unfortunately for me, Jeff Gordon was pitted all the way at the other end of the track, but that turned out fine as he didn’t spend that much time in the pits anyway.

The banking was recently changed at BMS allowing more side-by-side racing (and less bumper use), but we were surprised at how many times they were three wide exiting turn four. Randy and I would both hold our breath each time this would happen and then turn to each other and shake our heads in disbelief that nobody had wrecked.


The 500 lap race was over way too quickly, and although Jeff was in the top ten most of the race, he didn’t manage to win and ended up coming in fourth. Unfortunately, Kyle Busch was able to hold off Denny Hamlin in the green-white-checker finish to win the race.

All-in-all, I had a great time and BMS is definitely a unique experience. I think my favorite part was how close you were to everything. I’d definitely do it again (like maybe for the night race in August next year), but I would need to make some different travel plans as the traffic getting out of Bristol after the race was terrible (definitely worse than after the Pepsi 400 in Daytona) and it is such a long drive.

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