It’s been likened to flying fighter jets in a gymnasium. Bristol Motor Speedway is a test of endurance, nerves, and a seemingly unending traffic jam. After two weeks out west, NASCAR returns to its heartland at a sight reminiscent of a Roman coliseum. More so at the late summer night race than in the spring, racing at Bristol has a way of bringing out the gladiator in a driver.
That names like Darrell Waltrip, the Busch brothers, and Jeff Gordon- none of them ever adverse to contact- dot the race track’s honor roll of prolific race winners is no surprise. The hard core race will never forget when Dale Earnhardt went to “rattle” Terry Labontes cage, or when Carl Edwards did the bump and run on Kyle Busch. Even reportedly cooler heads such as Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth have gone their rounds in Eastern Tennessee.
After two weeks on intermediate tracks, a race at Bristol will be a welcome sight. At least for one week, we won’t have to hear about aero push and clean air. It will be interesting to see how the rule changes affect racing at this venue, with a little more weight given to winning, inspiring a little bit more of a “go for broke” mentality.
Though it’s changed- and not all for the better- Bristol Motor Speedway serves as a reminder of the kind of excitement that built the series. Before the “cookie cutters,” before Talladega, there was the old short track. It reminds us once again, that it’s not necessarily the speed that makes racing great, but it’s that ability to weave your way through traffic, keeping cool under pressure and a judicious use of your front bumper that is the secret to success.