NASCAR’s big weekend in Bristol has extended to the better part of a week. The Cup and Nationwide Tours are joined by a midweek show featuring the Trucks and Modified Series. Other great short track divisions have also graced the half-mile oval over the years.
The former All Pro and American Speed Associations have staged summertime battles there. NASCAR’s Dash Series and late model stock cars have dueled on the high banks. ARCA star Frank Kimmel’s street stock tour ran on the famed speedway. Thunder Valley even had the surface covered with dirt and the World of Outlaws sprint cars and late models held some breathtaking races.
Some of the best racing can be found off of the chrome and polished professional speedways and on the nation’s grassroots tracks. When the two worlds mix, like Bristol has offered, the results can be memorable.
Some cars could be right at home on the high banks and provide one fantastic show.
1. Supermodifieds. Winged or non-winged these are some of the fastest short track cars around. Featured at the Oswego Speedway in New York, the International Supermodified Association in the Northeast, the Western states, and Great Lakes Regions the speed they attain on tracks is very impressive. Bristol’s banking would provide speed alone that may sell tickets.
2. United States Auto Club Silver Crown/Sprints/Midgets. I combine the three classes into one category in this column for the sake of not disrespecting a division. Seeing any or preferably all of them on the Tennessee concrete would make a show. The USAC stars regularly compete on both dirt and pavement so there would not have to be a surface reconfiguration like accommodating the WoO machines. Winchester Speedway in Indiana is similar to Bristol and has given many of the Midwest drivers experience on this type of track.
3. Outlaw Style Super Late Models. The body styles popular in Michigan and Wisconsin make fast cars look even faster. Bristol is all about speed. The extremely heavy Cup cars circle the track around 15 seconds per lap. A high horsepower, offset chassis weighing 600 to 800 pounds less would set some hot time trial numbers.
4. I.M.C.A. Modifieds. They are popular on dirt in Middle America. Spots around the country have an asphalt version. Florida has them on display during February Speedweeks. The affordable division with the engine claimer rule appeals to many racers and helps keep owners and drivers in the sport. Competing at Bristol would be an opportunity similar to the local softball team having their championship at Yankee Stadium.
5. Indy lights. Well if I am going to dream, I might as well dream big. The full size Indycars raced as recently as 2009 on Richmond’s three-quarter mile oval. The short, flat track did not always lend itself to stellar competition. On a smaller, higher banked tracks like Bristol; the smaller Indy Lights cars pique my curiosity. Indycar’s feeder series has put on some tremendous racing with very little fanfare or media attention. Thunder Valley would sure give that to them. A good race or not, the “WOW” factor would be very high.
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR team mechanic who hosts "Motorweek Live" Thursdays at 9pm ET. Listen at www.racersreunionradio.com)
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