Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway's 36-degree banked concrete turns provide some of NASCAR's most exciting action in the friendly confines of a half-mile layout.
Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports, Inc., purchased "The World's Fastest Half-Mile" in 1996 and launched a massive expansion program to increase seating, parking, traffic flow lanes and fan comfort.
When it opened originally, Bristol was a perfect half-mile with 22-degree banking. But the track was reconfigured after the 1969 purchase to measure .533-mile and bankings were increased to 36 degrees.
Mountains literally moved to make Bristol's hills and valleys more "fan friendly," and make it possible to increase seating from 71,000 to its 1999 capacity of approximately 135,000.
The expanded seating represents 100,000 additional seats from Bristol's original total when it opened in 1961. Jack Smith gets credit for the first victory that year, though Johnny Allen was driving in relief of Smith and actually crossed the finish line first.
Three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip is Bristol's all-time winningest driver. The Tennessee resident has been to Bristol's Victory Lane 12 times, including a NASCAR record seven times in a row.
Bristol has become a favorite for fans and teams alike, prompting the present expansion to accommodate everyone who wants to see the show.
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY SEEKS STATE ASSISTANCE
April 5, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures
Bristol, Tenn. - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and the owner of Bristol Motor Speedway discussed potential state assistance for the NASCAR venue, two days after plans were announced to renovate the struggling track.
The Tennessean said Haslam and Bruton Smith, the North Carolina-based owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc., met in Nashville to hold "preliminary discussions" about potential aid. Speedway Motorsports plans to resurface Bristol before its next race in August in response to declining attendance and fan complaints about the quality of racing at the state's only Sprint Cup track.
"Bristol is a huge part of our state, revenuewise," Haslam said. "They didn't have any specific proposals for us, nor did we have any for them, but it's important for us to be in conversation with them about how they can get their attendance back to where they want it to be and where we want it to be, too."
Haslam and Smith held a lunchtime meeting to discuss plans for Bristol, a 160,000-seat, half-mile oval in Tennessee's northeastern corner that has long been one of the most popular tracks on NASCAR's Sprint Cup circuit.
The track is a major tourism draw for the area, but March's Food City 500 drew an official attendance of only 102,000. Telecasts showed stands that appeared to be only half full, with the upper tiers virtually empty.
Race officials have blamed bad weather, the recession and gas prices, but attendance has trailed off since Speedway Motorsports reconfigured Bristol in 2007 to encourage more side-by-side racing. The changes put an end to Bristol's hallmark - tight racing in which drivers bumped and swerved as they maneuvered around one another.
Restoring the track to its original configuration will cost about $1 million, according to The Associated Press.