Fast Facts: Bristol Motor Speedway

One of the most popular tracks on the NASCAR circuit for fans and drivers alike, Bristol Motor Speedway was constructed in 1960 and opened in 1961. The 0.533-mile short track in Bristol, Tennessee can hold upwards of 160,000 spectators in its stadium-like setting, giving everyone a great view of the action. Here’s a few fast facts on the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011.
  • Tiny Lund was the first driver to set wheels on the track on July 27th, 1961; Fred Lorenzen won the first pole position for the Volunteer 500. Only 19 of 42 cars that started actually finished the race, which was “won” by Jack Smith, who wasn’t in the car at the end of the race – Johnny Allen took over around lap 290 of 500 after Smith developed heat blisters on his feet. Completing the top five were some of the sport’s heroes: Fireball Roberts, Ned Jarrett, Richard Petty and Buddy Baker.
  • The high banks we know today came about in 1969 when the track was dug up and expanded from a half-mile to a 0.533-mile track. The higher banks, advertised at 36-degrees, were also added, and immediately added to speeds: whereas the track record to that point was Bobby Isaac’s 88.669 mph (set in March 1969), the new track record set by Cale Yarborough after the reconfiguration was almost 15 mph faster – 103.432 mph in July 1969.
  • Five drivers thus far have earned their first career Cup Series win at Bristol: Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, Ernie Irvan, Elliott Sadler and Kurt Busch. In 1988, superspeedway superstar Bill Elliott won his first-ever Cup Series short-track race at Bristol, while in 2010 Kyle Busch became the first driver in NASCAR to win three top national division events – Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series – in one weekend.
  • Bristol hosts a number of NASCAR events each season: two Sprint Cup Series races, two Nationwide Series races, one Camping World Truck Series race, and a combination race for the Whelen Modified Tour and the Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Bristol is also the home to Bristol Dragway, better known as “Thunder Valley;” it hosts the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Thunder Valley Nationals each year.
  • Find out more about Bristol Motor Speedway at
Fast Facts: Bristol Motor Speedway Fast Facts: Bristol Motor Speedway Reviewed by Paula on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 Rating: 5