Last weekend I got the chance of going to the Bristol Motor Speedway for the Irwin Tools Night Race, one of the most anticipated NASCAR events of the year. For me coming from Europe it was the first time at an important NASCAR race and it did not disappoint my expectations, with great racing and with that true american atmosphere typical of the fans. If you are a NASCAR fan and you have never been at a race there, here are some reasons why you should consider seriously to do it.
First of all the racing. Everybody knows that Bristol provides some of the best racing we could ask for. It is no coincidence that when you think of Bristol the phrase “It’s Bristol baby!”, first pronounced by Dale Earnhardt Jr in 2004, comes straight to your mind because it is just a special place for the drivers to compete at. Even if the track is really short in comparison to the other Sprint Cup ovals it is fast and speed is always good for creating a nice show for the people in the stands. Furthermore, it always creates exciting duels between the drivers who go three wide into the corners with also the trouble created by the lapped cars that often get in the leader’s way. Some people still think that the races held at Bristol since the repave are not as great as they were before, but I think that last weekend’s race should make them change their mind.
Another peculiarity of Bristol that makes it special are the fights between the drivers, once a common thing to many racetracks but now that most of the old short tracks have been excluded from the schedule they have become more and more rare and they exist usually only in the remaining half-mile ovals like Bristol and Martinsville. In these places drivers are always more prone to get mad at each other because of the continuous contact with each other and this always creates a great excitement in the spectators. Last weekend Denny Hamlin threw his HANS device at Kevin Harvick after being wrecked by him and the fans, as always, loved it.
At last, the atmosphere that exists at Bristol is unique. The fans who come to the track are not occasional fans, they come to Bristol because they know how special this place is. And they are special as well, expressing their cheering like no others. In addition to that, all the pre-race ceremonies are really patriotic and touching even for a foreigner like me. From the skydivers to the anthem, everything makes the fans stand up and applaud but the best part comes when the driver intros take place. When Earnhardt gets into the track a huge standing ovation grows from the standings while drivers like Kyle Busch or Jimmie Johnson are very much booed. The same thing happens during the race: I clearly remember the huge “OOOHH” that came from the stands when Earnhardt was hit by Hamlin’s car.
To sum up, if you are looking for one race to go to next season, go to the World’s Fastest Half Mile.