BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY. BRISTOL, TENNESSEE
- Third largest sports venue in America
- Seventh largest in the world
- Holds up to 162,000 people!
- Banking on curves is 26 to 30 degrees!
- Track is a mere one-half mile in length.
Despite it’s short length, Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the most popular tracks on the Nascar circuit because of it’s distinct features: extraordinary steep banking, all concrete surface, two pit roads, and stadium style seating. So here we are, a whole gaggle of smiley faced sports cars, getting ready to do battle with the Intimidator, in a stadium known as the Last Great Colosseum.
We had a police escort right to the front door.
Then it was on to the “garage”
Once in the garage, each car had to stop and check in
Exiting the garage is a super steep drop down to pit lane and the track. Cars are required to wait until the car in front is down the slope and in pit lane.
Once on the track, we did a parade lap back into pit lane to line up in our respective track groups.
All lined up and ready to go……….but Mother Nature had other plans.
Three-thirty in the afternoon and all the cars are lined up and ready for some hot laps on this all left turns Nascar track. But it was raining. Everything was put on hold as we all gathered in the media building to wait out the rain. BMS staff took out their track drying equipment to no avail. At the staffs recommendation, some of our group got behind the Pace car to try and use engine and tire heat to dry the track sufficiently. Uh-uh.
By now it was six PM, and the BMS track officials were talking to our group leaders. It looked like we were going to be relegated to doing parade laps or nothing at all.
But then, Divine Intervention! As if the racing gods felt our plight, the rain stopped, the clouds parted, the suns rays beamed down onto the track, drying it in minutes. Thumbs up from the track officials and we were a go!
The racing gods smile on Miatas!
“Matchbox” is all smiles and rarin’ to go!
The first group out was the beginner group. This is the group we were in. No matter what your previous track experience on other tracks, if it is the first time on this track, you are automatically put in this group. Fine with me. We followed an official Nascar Pace Car ( a super trick Camaro) that set the max speed for each group. Ours was set at 75 MPH. The pace car could adjust the speed faster or slower depending how the group was driving. Seventy-five doesn’t seem that fast, until you’re doing it on banked curves that make you feel like you will drop right out of the car!
The Pace Car
The pace car took us on two progressively faster parade laps to familiarize ourselves with the track and banking, then led us back into pit lane. At this point anyone who wanted to bail was able, and passengers who thought we were just idiots for doing this, could also flee the scene. Roo exited reluctantly, only because she gets a bit of vertigo. Besides, she was the track photographer for me.
Here we go! Me and “Matchbox” on the move! Zoom Zoom! (photos by Roo)
Taking the high bank.
Oooo! A bit close to that wall!
Ease off the wall a bit
75 MPH off the banking to the straight
Middle ground keeps pucker effect down
Ahhh. That’s better.
Back in pit lane…whew! Awesome!
Go again? Thumbs up!
The Last Great Colosseum
This place really does resemble a Roman Colosseum. I am told the noise here is incredible during a race. It also boasts the highest number of bumps and collisions of any track in the country due to its short length, steep banking and high speeds. A modern day venue for 21st century gladiators.
What a day. Autocross in the morning, track laps in the afternoon. Mother nature gave us a pass. Running hot laps on this track was a bit nerve racking, exhilarating, and yes, intimidating. I am not a Nascar fan, preferring road courses like Indy Car, Road Atlanta, Moto GP, Isle of Man TT, Laguna Seca, etc. However, I drove away with a new appreciation for what these guys do on this track. I can’t even imagine doing 200 MPH on this track, or any track for that matter, with 30 other cars doing 200 MPH trying to pass you! Wow!
We all headed back to downtown Bristol for some food, a beer or two, and re-hash the days adventures.
A cool place to park it in Downtown Bristol
This was our first time at this MX5 event, and it is a keeper. It’s on the calendar for 2020. If you own a MX5 Miata, come join us next year. You won’t be disappointed.