Fan, businesses react to Bristol Motor Speedway race date change


Fans who know and love the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway are in for a change starting next year.

Tuesday NASCAR announced that the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race will become a playoff race, scheduled for September 19, 2020.

This will replace the August race.

A fan and business owners we spoke to were surprised to hear the news of the race date change.

It’s a race that could impact other events, like the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion Music Festival.

Harry Wiley is a major race fan. He spent much of Wednesday with his wife, making sure his RV is ready to go for next week’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Just house cleaning, straightening things up, stocking the refrigerator, Wiley said.

Wiley told us he’s surprised to find out the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, usually held in August, will be moving to September in 2020.

I don’t think it’s that much of a change for the race track fans, as it is for the people trying to change their vacations, Wiley said.

We found a similar reaction on State Street in Downtown Bristol.

We’ve always been used to have the race in August and then the Rhythm and Roots in September, Cranberry Lane and Southern Churn Owner Karen Hester said.

The Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion Festival is usually the same September weekend as the new race date.

It’ll be a little different logistically you know as far as ordering because we stock our stores heavily during those times for both of those events, and Hester said she’s confident she’ll make it work and provide the best experience for her customers.

Emily Hunter, manager of That Cookie Dough, said downtown is packed that time of year.

It’s pretty busy, same with Rhythm and Roots. It’s always really, really busy. It’s nice though because you get to see a lot of new people, Hunter said.

It’s a change that Bristol Motor Speedway is excited about, saying fans wanted Bristol in the playoffs.

I think you can look at all the things that happened with this 2020 schedule and NASCAR, you can clearly say they have listened, Hunter said.

Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion Festival organizers tell us they’re working with both Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia to find the best solution to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the festival.

We’re told they should have an update by the end of this week.

Some area schools close the Friday before the NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

For Bristol, Virginia Public Schools the race is an opportunity for clubs, teams, staff and parents to raise money for their organizations.

Groups sometimes work concessions, souvenirs, or clean up after the race.

Bristol, Virginia School Superintendent Dr. Keith Perrigan tells us they usually close school on Friday because of added traffic in the area and many students and staff are absent.

This upcoming fall, we’ll be discussing the calendar for the year this will affect. I would assume the calendar committee would recommend to our school board that we take the Friday off before the new September date, and I would assume that our board would approve it, Dr. Perrigan said.

Bristol, Tennessee City Schools said they’re also normally out the Friday before the race, and the September 2020 race will likely be the same.

Sullivan County Schools said Wednesday they still need to look into the 2020 calendar and will adjust accordingly.

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