BRISTOL, Tenn. – The beautiful Spring weather means only one thing: another Food City 500 weekend is here!
NASCAR’s best will hit the high banks this weekend, April 21-23. This year’s Food City 500 will feature a special milestone: Food City celebrates its 25th year of sponsoring the April race. This partnership between the regional grocery retailer and the Speedway remains the second longest race entitlement partnership in NASCAR. And with the return of the lower groove, the action will be at an all-time high at Bristol.
“We can’t wait to reconnect with our old friends and look forward to welcoming new guests to the Food City 500 weekend,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. “There’s so much to do during race weekend and that doesn’t even include the race itself. We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.”
The April race weekend will be the first chance for fans to see the new stage racing format that NASCAR implemented at the beginning of the season. All races in NASCAR’s top three series will feature three stages. The Stage 1 and Stage 2 winners will earn 10 additional points and a playoff point, with the top 10 also earning regular season points. The winner of Stage 3 will earn the race victory and move closer to a spot in the 2017 playoffs. The Food City 500 is scheduled to be run in three stages of 125 laps, 125 laps and 250 laps. The Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 is scheduled for 85 laps, 85 laps and 130 laps.
Families will want to be sure to check out many of Bristol’s newest kids initiatives for 2017. Kids-12-and-under are free to Friday’s Bush’s Beans Pole Day and Saturday’s Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300/Zombie Auto 125 doubleheader. With the purchase of an adult ticket, kids’ tickets to Sunday’s Food City 500 are only $10. Each child must have a physical ticket to enter the gates.
In addition, BMS has introduced two new concourse level kids’ zones (one in Turn 2 and one in Turn 4) to complement the main kid zone in the Fan Zone area outside Turn 2 of Bristol Motor Speedway. These new zones will give parents a place to entertain their kids during the race.
Another new addition to Bristol Motor Speedway is the Fan Zone Stage, located next to the iconic Bristol Tower. The stage will feature driver appearances, live musical performances and a live pre-race show on Sunday. The stage is designed to create an ESPN College GameDay-type atmosphere for guests in the Fan Zone and will be open all three days of racing.
Fans in the stands will be in for a treat as the Speedway moves its MENCS Victory Lane to the start finish line. This will give fans a chance to celebrate with the winning driver after 500 grueling laps.
Highlights of the weekend include:
Thursday, April 20: The annual SCC dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. in the third-floor banquet room of The Bruton Smith Building. NASCAR Hall of Famer and two-time Bristol winner Mark Martin and PRN announcer Brad Gillie will entertain and host the evening’s festivities. Please contact Betsy Holleman at (423) 989-6975 for details and to reserve a space.
Later that night, Track Laps presented by Johnny Brusco’s will be held at 7 and 8 p.m. For $35, guests can drive their own vehicle around the World’s Fastest Half-Mile for five laps. Additionally, fans can get their picture taken in victory lane for an extra $10. Guests are asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to their session time.
Friday, April 21: It is your first chance to see the stars of NASCAR on track. Friday action includes Bush’s Beans Pole Day and practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and practice for the K&N Series. Practice for the MENCS Food City 500 is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. with knockout qualifying at 4:45 p.m. NASCAR XFINITY Series practice for the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 is scheduled for 1 and 3:30 p.m. while Zombie Auto 125 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East practice is at 2 p.m. with qualifying at 6 p.m. Tickets for Bush’s Beans Pole Day are available for only $20 with kids 12-and-under free with the purchase of an adult ticket.
Food City Family Race Night, one of the largest fan festivals on the circuit, will be held from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. The night includes driver autograph sessions, interactive games, music stages and more. Visit https://www.foodcity.com/racing/ for the list of participating drivers.
In addition, qualifying for the SCC’s Meade Tractor Cornhole Classic will take place at 2 and 5 p.m. in the Fan Zone. Cost is $40 to enter per team and guests can register at http://www.bristol.speedwaycharities.org or on site, pending available spaces.
The official Spring Race 5K presented by Agero will also take place on Friday at 7:30 p.m. It is the first race of a three-race series for BMS in 2017. Guests will be able to take in the sights and sounds of Food City Race Night, BMS campgrounds and go for a lap around the Last Great Colosseum. Registration is $25 at http://www.bristol.speedwaycharities.org.
The night ends with Half-Mile Hot Laps driven by Seat Time Racing School. Guests who want to experience the thrill of top speeds around BMS will want to check this out. Experiences will be set up on track from 8:30 – 11:30 p.m. Interested guests should visit http://www.seattimeracingschool.com for more information. A portion of the proceeds will benefit SCC.
The Fan Zone stage will open at 10 a.m. and run until 4 p.m. near the iconic Bristol Tower. Bands are scheduled to perform throughout the day.
Kids will want to check out the free, interactive main Kids Zone from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Activities, for children 15 and under, includes inflatables, a rock wall, zip line, euro bungee, cornhole, face painting and a coloring station located in the Fan Zone (near the large lighted Bristol Motor Speedway sign).
The new concourse level kids zones, complete with inflatables, coloring stations and more, will open at 1 p.m.
Guests 21-and-over will want to check out the expanded Lawn Party, complete with life-size beer pong and much more. The Lawn Party will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Fan Zone.
Saturday, April 22: It’s race day for competitors of the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 and Zombie Auto 125. In addition, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers will finish up their practice for the Food City 500 with sessions at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Fans of the NASCAR K&N Series will want to visit Lot C on Speedway property for a K&N driver autograph session. The session is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series goes green with a new format for the “Dash 4 Cash” program. The top two XFINITY regulars from the first two stages will be eligible for the $100,000 bonus in the Main event. Justin Allgaier won the first “Dash 4 Cash” race at Phoenix and is eligible for a $600,000 bonus if he claims the prize at all four tracks, equaling a total of $1 million. Green flag for the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Following the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300, the future stars of NASCAR take to the track in the Zombie Auto 125 with the green flag at approximately 4 p.m. Tickets for Saturday’s doubleheader start at only $40 for adults with kids 12-and-under free with the purchase of an adult ticket.
A second qualifying session of the Meade Tractor Cornhole Classic will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Kids Zone hours will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the Fan Zone location and the two concourse level zones will open at 1 p.m.
The 21-and-over Lawn Party will be open in the Fan Zone from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Fan Zone stage will open at 9 a.m. and run until after 1 p.m. near the iconic Bristol Tower. Bands are scheduled to perform throughout the day.
Once racing for the day is finished, guests will want to head over to the South Building, located just inside the South entrance of the Speedway off Volunteer Parkway/Hwy 11 E, for BMS’ newest endeavor: Bristol’s Neon Nights Party. Fans will want to dance the night away to classic hits from the early 1990s featuring special guest’s D.J. DU and former MTV V.J., Riki Rachtman. Complete with music from cover band The Breakfast Club, food trucks, cash bars and more, Bristol’s Neon Nights Party provides fans the opportunity to continue their fun experiences at the track well into the night. All Season and Spring ticket purchasers will receive an invitation to the event. A printable ticket must be brought to enter the party.
Sunday, April 23: It’s time for the main event, the Food City 500! The stars of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will attempt to tame The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.
Race festivities begin with the pre-race concert featuring rising country music performer Russell Dickerson at 12:20 p.m. Fans can purchase a Pre-Race SuperPass and be stage-side (on the track) for the concert. The SuperPass also includes a Track Walk and track access for Bristol’s wildly popular driver introductions.
Driver introductions for the Food City 500 begin at 1:20 p.m. as drivers walk out and wave to the crowd as a song of their request plays in the background. It’s one of the most interactive driver intros on the circuit! Be sure to catch honorary Chevy pace car driver and former WWE world champ Bill Goldberg getting the crowd pumped for the race.
Fans will want to be sure to keep their eyes to the sky during the National Anthem as four T-38 Talons, from the 49th Fighter Training Squadron at Columbus Air Force Base in Columbus, Miss., fly overhead. The Talon has been one of the United States Air Force’s most valued training aircraft and is the world’s first supersonic trainer.
Just after 2 p.m., the sounds of engines will roar to life with the “Drivers, Start your Engines” command. After a few pace laps, the green flag will be waved and one of the greatest spectacles in sports will begin. Fans cheer as their favorite gladiators attempt to tackle 500 laps on one of the most physically demanding tracks in NASCAR.
At the end of the first stage or during the first caution, whichever comes first, Speedway Children’s Charities will pass around red buckets in the grandstands as part of the Red Bucket Brigade. Guests are encouraged to donate their loose change to help local children.
Be sure to pick up Food City’s 25th-anniversary special edition souvenir program, available for $10 throughout the weekend, to commemorate your trip.
The Fan Zone stage will open at 9 a.m. and run until 12:45 p.m. near the iconic Bristol Tower. The pre-race Trackside Show featuring driver appearances and more is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.
The Fan Zone Kids Zone will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the concourse level zones opening at 1 p.m.
The Lawn Party will be open from 9 to 1:30 p.m. in the Fan Zone. SCC’s Meade Tractor Cornhole Classic will finish up on Sunday with the Grand Championship at 9 a.m.
Tickets for the Food City 500 are still available, starting at just $69. Visit http://BristolTix.com or call (855) 580-5525.