Fans descend on Bristol ahead of Food City 500

Fans descend on Bristol ahead of Food City 500

Posted:
Race fans tailgate outside the speedway. Race fans tailgate outside the speedway.
"I've been doing it about 18 years. Usually stay across the road here, but I started hooking up with these boys and we do a boys' trip, a men's trip, whatever you want to call it," said Sam Hart of Ohio. "I've been doing it about 18 years. Usually stay across the road here, but I started hooking up with these boys and we do a boys' trip, a men's trip, whatever you want to call it," said Sam Hart of Ohio.
Thousands of fans were already on site Friday evening, gearing up for a weekend of racing and tailgating. Thousands of fans were already on site Friday evening, gearing up for a weekend of racing and tailgating.

By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

BRISTOL (WATE) - Race fans are making their way to Bristol for the Food City 500 on Sunday.

Thousands of fans were already on site Friday evening, gearing up for a weekend of racing and tailgating.

Fans told 6 News they are excited about the big race and about the debut of the Generation 6 car on the short track.

But many say it's also as great opportunity to see old friends.

"I've been doing it about 18 years. Usually stay across the road here, but I started hooking up with these boys and we do a boys' trip, a men's trip, whatever you want to call it," said Sam Hart of Ohio.

Hart drove eight hours from Ohio to spend the weekend at the races with about 20 friends.

"I almost couldn't do it. Money's tight and everything, but I just had to make it happen, and so I'm here and I'm just going to make the best of it," he said.

Attendance this year is up over last year's numbers with big giveaways in store and a big debut.

"We've got lots going on," said Bristol Motor Speedway General Manager Jerry Caldwell. "I think some of the influence with attendance right now is the excitement with the Generation 6 car. This is going to be the first short track of the season. It's the first time you get to see that new car on a short track, so there's a lot of excitement with race fans about that."

And as excited as fans are, the speedway staff is thrilled for the big weekend.

"This is like Christmas morning for all the employees here at Bristol, because we get to do it twice a year, but it's what we put our heart and soul into this and it's like welcoming back 150,000 of your family and friends for a family reunion," he said.

Several people 6 News spoke with say it's their first time at the race even though they live in East Tennessee.

"A buddy of mine got tickets and he invited to come, so we're up here all three days," said John Glover of Greeneville.

"Go in there, watch them going around, doing their thing, 200 miles an hour, you can't beat it," said Rodney Taylor of Knoxville.

Caldwell says the crowd Friday was actually bigger than in the past, and the crowd Sunday is expected to be bigger than last year, too.

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