What is Bristol Motor Speedway in NASCAR?

What Is Bristol Motor Speedway In NASCAR

Bristol Motor Speedway is an iconic NASCAR short track in Bristol, Tennessee. It has been a mainstay of the Cup Series schedule since its opening in 1961, and the venue hosts several other sporting events. Keep reading to learn more about Bristol Motor Speedway.

  • Location: Bristol, Tennessee
  • First Race: July 30, 1961
  • Length: 0.533 miles (0.858 km)
  • Straightaway Length: 650 feet (198 m)
  • Straightaway Banking: 9°
  • Corner Banking: 24°-28°
  • Capacity: 153,000
  • Most Driver Wins: Darrell Waltrip (12 wins)
  • Most Manufacturer Wins: Chevrolet (126 wins)
  • Nickname(s): “World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” “The Last Great Colosseum,” “Thunder Valley,” “The Holy Grail of Short Tracks

Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol Motor Speedway is a NASCAR short track in Bristol, Tennessee. The half-mile track hosts two NASCAR Cup Series races every year, the Bristol Dirt Race and the Bristol Night Race. Bristol is a favorite track among fans and drivers because of its unique, all-concrete surface, steep banking, dual pit roads, and stadium seating.

One of a select group of NASCAR tracks with lighting, races at Bristol are typically run into the evening and finished under the lights. This traditional stock car racing format contributes to the track’s popularity with fans. Bristol is one of the shortest tracks on the NASCAR schedule, and because of the track and seating format, is also one of the loudest.

Bristol Dirt Race

The Bristol Dirt race is a 250-lap, 133.25-mile NASCAR Cup Series race held every April on a specially built dirt track at Bristol Motor Speedway. Properly known as the Food City Dirt Race, the race has been on the schedule since the track’s opening in 1961, but it has only been run on a dirt track since 2021. Every year since then, a dirt track has been constructed atop the track’s concrete surface. Following the race, the dirt track is dismantled and the dirt is stored nearby until the next year’s race.

Bristol Night Race

The Bristol Night Race is a 500-lap, 266.5-mile Cup Series race held in September at Bristol Motor Speedway, typically on a Saturday evening. Officially called the Bass Pro Shops Night Race, it is twice as long as the Bristol Night Race and the more popular race of the two.

Like the Bristol Dirt Race, the Bristol Night Race has been on the Cup Series schedule since the track’s opening in 1961. It is the final race of the Round of 16 of the NASCAR Playoffs, meaning that the first elimination of four playoff drivers happens following the Bristol Night Race. The possibilities for last-ditch efforts to advance to the next round add to the excitement of the race.

History of Bristol Motor Speedway

The first NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway was held on July 30, 1961. Called the Volunteer 500, the inaugural race was won by Jack Smith and relief driver Johnny Allen, who had to take over after 290 laps. Owners Carl Moore, Larry Carrier and R. G. Pope opened the track to compete with Charlotte Motor Speedway, but in a smaller format.

Night racing began at Bristol in 1978, using temporary track lights for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. In 1992, Bristol’s original asphalt track was repaved in the abrasive concrete surface for which the venue is now beloved. In 1995, permanent track lights were installed, allowing additional night events to be held at the track. The first time a temporary dirt track was constructed at Bristol was in 2000, for the World of Outlaws' Channellock Challenge sprint car race.

Major Events at Bristol Motor Speedway

In addition to the Bristol Dirt Race and the Bristol Night Race in NASCAR’s Cup Series, Bristol Motor Speedway hosts several other races and events throughout the year. Here is a list of major sporting events held at Bristol Motor Speedway:

  • NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race
  • NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race
  • NASCAR Xfinity Series Food City 300
  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pinty's Dirt Truck Race
  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200
  • NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Thunder Valley Nationals
  • NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
  • ARCA Menards Series East Zombie Auto 150
  • U.S. Nationals of Short Track Racing
  • Battle at Bristol (NCAA Football)


What is Bristol Motor Speedway?

Bristol Motor Speedway is a short-track NASCAR speedway located in Bristol, Tennessee. It was constructed in 1960 and opened in 1961, with its first NASCAR race being hosted on July 30, 1961. The track is known for two major NASCAR races, the Bristol Dirt Race and the Bristol Night Race, both in the NASCAR Cup Series. It is also known for its concrete racing surface, the steep banks of the track, two pit roads, and its stadium seating.

How much are tickets at Bristol Motor Speedway?

The cost of tickets at Bristol Motor Speedway will vary depending on the event one is attending, but average tickets cost around $182. Certain events that are less well-known may cost less to attend, while high-profile races, such as those in the NASCAR Cup Series, will likely cost more. Ticket prices also vary depending on where one is seated at the speedway.

What kinds of races are there at Bristol Motor Speedway?

There is a large variety of races at Bristol Motor Speedway. Two of the most famous races are the Bristol Dirt Race and the Bristol Night Race, both of which are part of the NASCAR Cup Series. However, other races held at the speedway include the Xfinity Series Food City 300, three annual NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Races, and the U.S. Nationals of Short Track Racing. There was even an NCAA football game, the Battle of Bristol, which occurred at the speedway.