Bristol Motor Speedway: 5 Fast Facts To Know

By Brittany Frederick

NASCAR is back at Bristol Motor Speedway this week for the Irwin Tools Night Race. And since we’ve already given you our tailgating tips for Bristol, here’s an encore helping of Fast Facts about the racetrack itself.

1. Not only is it loud, it’s big. Record book-worthy big

Back in 2012, a local news station claimed that Bristol was one of NASCAR’s loudest tracks. It’s also the fourth largest sports venue of any kind (by capacity) in the United States, and the eighth largest in the entire world. If you’re wondering, Indianapolis Motor Speedway tops the worldwide list, with more than 267,000 publicly available seats. That’s more than 100,000 above what Bristol holds.

2. We’re still not entirely sure what the banking is

Most tracks have fairly consistent measurements, unless they go through a remodel or other construction project. Bristol is different; the subject of its banking in corners has long been up for debate. Beginning in 1969, the track listed it as 36 degrees, while some race broadcasters used to say 35 and Ryan Newman’s team once measured the corners at 26 degrees.

The track was resurfaced in 2007, which changed things again, and BMS now lists a range rather than a specific number: 24 to 28 degrees. Maybe Newman and his team were on to something (he does hold an engineering degree from Purdue).

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Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

3. It used to be a dairy

The land upon which Bristol was built formerly belonged to Gray’s Dairy, which at one point was considered to be one of the largest dairies in the Eastern United States. That’s pretty fitting since Bristol then went on to become one of NASCAR’s largest tracks. The track also holds the Guinness World Record for the largest number of people participating in a single crowd wave, 157,574, set at the August NASCAR race in 2008. Bristol just does everything big.

4. It’s going to be a football stadium

You might not think that you could race NASCAR and play college football in the same venue, but Bristol is making that happen. Three years ago, the track announced plans for a one-off game between Virginia Tech and Tennessee on the grounds of Bristol Motor Speedway. The game will be played on September 10, 2016. That means that after next year’s August NASCAR race, they will literally be building turf and field on the track. This should be interesting.

5. It inspired part of a Disney movie

Disney’s 2006 hit Cars owes a little something to Bristol Motor Speedway and, specifically, this weekend’s event. While the movie was in production, director and co-writer John Lasseter (a known NASCAR fan) used Bristol’s yearly night race as the inspiration for the fictional Motor Speedway of the South, which you can see in the film’s opening scene. There’s just one big difference: The movie track is a full mile, as opposed to Bristol’s well-known half-mile. Good luck not picturing Lightning McQueen under the lights this weekend.

The Irwin Tools Night Race takes place this Sunday, August 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Brittany Frederick is an award-winning entertainment and sports journalist, screenwriter, and novelist. You can reach her at her official website and on Twitter.

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