NASCAR visits one of its best-known tracks this week. Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted racing for more than 50 years and is considered one of the loudest tracks in the entire championship. It goes without saying that we’re telling you to bring ear protection. But here are five other things you should know before heading to Bristol.
1. You’re about to visit pop culture history
Bristol Motor Speedway was one of the tracks on which Tom Cruise’s 1990 NASCAR movie, Days of Thunder, was filmed (the others include Daytona, Darlington, Charlotte and Phoenix). The city of Bristol was also officially recognized by Congress as the “Birthplace of Country Music” in 1998. So you’re not just going to a racetrack when you head to the Food City 500, you’re also dropping in on an entertainment hotspot.
2. Bristol could be the easiest NASCAR track to make camping arrangements at
BMS owns five campgrounds around the property, and the camping page on their website has a handy map labeling each of them for you. But scroll down for the real gem — a complete list of the various camping options, with the amenities of each clearly labeled. BMS will even tell you if that particular level is sold out, wait-listed or available for both this week’s race and the August Chase race. (Hint: If you’re going there again in August, start booking now.)
3. Handicapped parking requires an application in advance
If you use a handicapped placard or license plate, BMS mandates that you fill out a special-needs parking application and submit it along with copies of your placard and documentation — before you come to the track. This is because BMS will issue track parking permits with assigned parking. The application is available on the site, but don’t forget to fill it out, otherwise you’ll end up in open parking that’s farther away.
4. Know your prohibited items
Every track has a list of things that you can’t bring through the gates, but BMS has excluded a few things you should definitely take note of. They include: Glass containers of any kind, coolers wider than 14 inches and stadium seats wider than 17 inches or ones with arms and umbrellas. So leave those glass beer bottles in the recycle bins. If you were hoping to use that umbrella to stake out some shade inside the track, it’s best to stick with your sunglasses.
5. Take advantage of the park-and-ride system (and the reservations)
Getting from the parking lot to the gates at a NASCAR track can be one of the most complicated parts of your day. BMS is trying to ease that pain by partnering with luxury bus company RallyBus to offer service to and from the track for $20 roundtrip. The big advantage for tailgaters is that you can reserve bus seats online, so you won’t have to take time out of your tailgate to wait around for the bus. But do so quickly as space is limited.
The Food City 500 takes place at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 19 at 1 p.m. ET.