The world’s most versatile half-mile: How BMS serves as a multi-use venue


BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – This week, the infield of Bristol Motor Speedway is covered in dirt for the upcoming dirt races, but the property itself is more than just a racing venue.

While Bristol Motor Speedway is known for racing, operators of the World’s Fastest Half-Mile also double as masters at the art of transformation, making the venue a multi-use property that serves a number of purposes throughout the calendar year.

“We’re an entertainment venue. Yes, our core business is racing, and we are a race track but we’re really an entertainment venue. We have lots of other facilities here on the property that people can use,” said General Manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, Jerry Caldwell.

Caldwell said during a normal year, something is happening at the speedway more than 300 days of it.

“We host something from a boy scout troop getting together and needing some property to driving schools to safety driving schools, drag racing, vaccine distribution, concerts, football games and then obviously our core business being racing,” he said.

In 2016, it took about 18 days for Bristol Motor Speedway to transform into a football field to host “The Battle at Bristol.” The Tennessee versus Virginia Tech match-up drew an NCAA record crowd of nearly 160 thousand.

The speedway also hosts an annual holiday favorite. Each year, the track becomes a winter wonderland known as “Speedway in Lights”, with the holiday light extravaganza raises money for Speedway Children’s Charities.

“This property is used so many days a year to make a difference in the community. Whether it’s the charities raising money or groups coming in from all over the region to have meetings here,” said Exec. Director of Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities, Claudia Byrd.

Byrd said this year, even with the pandemic, their event wasn’t forced to change too much. While they decided not to have rides at the event this year, hardly anything else changed since the event promoted social distancing long before it actually existed.

They’re also using the dirt race to help raise money for children across the region by selling jars of dirt in honor of the dirt races. Jars are $25 and have already sold online for the most part prior to the races, according to Byrd. Being able to promote charitable events year-round proves the versatility of the property.

However, this year the Bristol Motor Speedway campus served arguably its most important purpose yet, by serving as a COVID-19 vaccine distribution site.

“They were a tremendous partner in this. Without them, we would not be where we are today in our vaccination numbers in Sullivan County,” said Sullivan County Health Dept. Emergency Response Coordinator, Mark Moody.

While many know Bristol Motor Speedway as the World’s Fastest half mile, you could also call it the world’s most versatile half mile.

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