Bristol Motor Speedway is gearing up for a busy two-week stretch of racing at “The Last Great Colosseum,” concluding with the Pinty’s U.S. Short Track Nationals next weekend, September 25-26. Four divisions will take to the half-mile once again, with Super Late Model, Pro Late Model, Street Stock and Vore’s Compact competitors vying for the gladiator sword that his since become tradition.
This year’s date was postponed from May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, just one weekend after the Bristol Night Race for all three NASCAR National Series. Bristol Motor Speedway Director of Events Brandon Cross joined “The Bullring” to talk about the excitement leading up to next weekend’s event.
“It’s busy times here at Bristol but we’re loving every minute of it. We’re working on both events, the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race and at the same time, the excitement going towards the Pinty’s U.S. Short Track Nationals,” Cross said. “We’re all excited to get it here and watch it happen.”
This year’s Pinty’s U.S. Short Track Nationals will throw a wrench towards teams compared to previous years. The spring NASCAR event has normally been held at least a month out from the Short Track Nationals, with most of the rubber and PJ1 Traction Compound having disappeared from the racing surface. With this year’s event being held just one weekend after NASCAR rolls into town, Short Track Nationals competitors could see a completely different racing surface than years past.
“It’ll be a different racetrack than what those guys are used to the last few years. Traction compound’s been discussed as to whether to use it here at the U.S. Short Track Nationals, this will be a good taste of it no doubt with all the racing for it, not to mention all the rubber laid down before it. It should make for some exciting action as usual for the Pinty’s U.S. Short Track Nationals.”
Now in its fourth year, Bristol Motor Speedway continues to adapt in order to make the Pinty’s U.S. Short Track Nationals better year after year. Cross explained the multiple facets the track takes into consideration to create the best experience possible.
“We’ve learned a lot from the first year, with close to 500 racers,how to use the property. We try to exceed expectations with not just the fan aspect, but the competitor aspect. We’ve learned different ways, like we need to find ways to park different, we need to find ways to do things different to make things a little easier for these racers. They’re coming to the Last Great Colosseum, they need to make sure their experience is great.
“On the fans’ side, it’s to continue to promote the incredible excitement for what this event offers. Once we get people here and they stay and watch all of Saturday’s racing, we’ve got them. There’s no doubt about it, they’re going to come back.”
Just like at the NASCAR All-Star Race and this weekend’s event, fans will be allowed at the U.S. Short Track Nationals with extended guidelines to prevent COVID-19. The guidelines have been something track officials have worked hard to create in order to be able to safely host fans, and they have been pleased with the results of their efforts to date.
“We’re blessed with room for fans to social distance. Our staff has plans to accommodate that and fans have done a good job doing what we’re asking, everybody understands the circumstances. There’s a few things we need to do to keep having events with fans,” he said.
“Wearing masks in common areas or when you go to the restroom and concession stand is something we require, and people understand that and do a great job. When fans get back to their seats, they can take their masks off. It’s worked out very well.”
The event shows Cross and track staff just how important Bristol Motor Speedway is to fans and drivers from around the country. While working at the speedway day in and day out can become mundane, they are reminded just how special “Thunder Valley” is.
“It’s a reminder for all of us just what a great place we’re at every day. When you see these guys pull in with their rigs and come out with their camera and phones taking pictures from the second they step on the property until about the time they strap into their cars, it’s just a reminder that this place means so muchto so many people. Events like these remind you of that and make you take a step back. This is a part of why we do what we do.”
The Pinty’s U.S. Short Track Nationals will once again be broadcasted live on Speed51.TV. Click here to purchase your PPV ticket today.
Click here to watch a replay of Monday’s episode of “The Bullring.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo