When we started traveling, we didn’t actually put together a ‘bucket list’ of places we wanted to go, but knew from all the conversations we had over the years there were a few places we would definitely go.
Bristol Motor Speedway was one of those places. We have been NASCAR race fans for many years, but because of our location in the mountains of Colorado, we have never been able to attend many races.
When deciding to make a southeast US swing, we made sure our mileage plans took us to the northeast corner of Bristol Tennessee during the spring race of 2019.
Bristol Tennessee is also Bristol Virginia.
Yes, the town of Bristol is literally on the state line of Virginia and Tennesse. The town has been around since the mid-1800s, and in 1900 the US Congress declared the state line to be drawn through the middle of the two cities – identifying the center “State Street” as the line.
It is a small town but has a nice vibe for people attending NASCAR races twice a year. There also is a large Birthplace of Country Music museum that attracts people, but we didn’t take the time to visit.
We did eat lunch at a fantastic old diner in the downtown area. Its small-town atmosphere was a welcome change from chain restaurants. We liked it so much, we went back on Saturday to enjoy their Saturday morning breakfast!
They also recommended the Blackbird Bakery a few blocks down from them. Amazing, calorie-laden delicacies and coffee made us happy more than once while we were there!
But the main reason for the visit was the race!
Bristol is the smallest racetrack on the NASCAR circuit, at just over one-half mile. It looks more like a football stadium than a racetrack. With seating around the entire track (more than 150,000), every seat gives you a view of the whole track.
It also is so small that there are no garages for the cars and teams to work from. The simply part more than 80 semi-trucks in the center of the track, and teams work from the truck rather than a garage. It is a great site!
To fully experience the weekend, we parked our motorhome on one of the ‘campgrounds’ around the track. I use the term loosely, as it really was just a giant parking lot with striping for each space. There were no water, electric or sewer hookups, just a parking lot. That was ok, we were prepared.
The racetrack provides trams and shuttle buses from the various campgrounds over to the track (we were really about a mile away). This area of Tennessee is very hilly, so you were always walking up and down hills. Or just uphill. It seemed like we walked uphill a lot more than downhill.
Practice and races ran on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We took in all we could! The crowd wasn’t as large as I expected it would be, but still, 60,000 or more people is still a lot!
We bought the usual amount of souvenirs (hey, what were you expecting!?!?) and, because we were ‘first-timers’ we were treated to badges that identified us for the Race Staff to help us when we had questions. It’s Bristol Baby! is their slogan, hashtag and general identifying statement.
It lived up to our expectations, and we thoroughly enjoyed every day of the week we were there! Will we go back? If we have a chance. But, there is still lots of the US to see, so maybe in a year or two!
Check another thing off the Bucket List!