BRISTOL, TN (WJHL) – Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fascination with the high-banked half-mile oval in northeast Tennessee began when he was a kid.
Long before he famously exclaimed, “It’s Bristol, Baby!” at the 2004 Night Race, Earnhardt Jr. was a baby running around the pits at Bristol.
This August, Earnhard Jr. will be making his final Bristol Cup start during the weekend’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
“I always loved going there as a kid,” Earnhardt Jr. has said. “It’s one of the more exciting racetracks to be at as a fan. I used to go watch my father race (and) being able to run around the pits and garage area all weekend long. There’s not a bad seat in the house at Bristol.”
Bristol Motor Speedway posted a video online of Earnhardt Jr. giving the speedway the kids’ seal of approval. As a youngster, he was a frequent visitor of BMS.
“My favorite race was the Bristol night race,” Earnhardt Jr. has said. “We would park our family vans on the grass in the corners and climb up on the back and watch the race. We were literally 20, 30 yards from the cars, and they might spin and wreck and slide down onto the apron and you could feel the heat and smell the smoke. It was such a great experience. You were up on the vans with your friends pointing at this, pointing at that. There’s action all the time.”
Earnhardt Jr. always cheered on his father, a seven-time champion, and master of Bristol’s high banks — having won there nine times.
According to BMS, his fondest memory of his father was his dad’s 1985 victory.
“He ran 440 of the 500 laps with no power steering,” said Earnhardt Jr., who recalled the trophy presented to his father during the winner’s circle ceremony was taller than he was. “He was wore slam out at the end of that race. He had a lot of moments in his career where he lived up to his reputation as an intimidator, a tough guy. That was one of the races where he checked that box pretty good.”
The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Weeks kicks off with the Bush’s Beans 150 NASCAR Whelen Modified Series Race and the UNOH 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race on Wednesday, August 16. The racing action continues on Friday night on August 18 with the Food City 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race and Pinty’s Qualifying. The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race — a 500 lap event will take place on August 19.
BMS touts it has affordable kid-friendly prices for the upcoming week of racing. Tickets for kid 12 and under are free with a paid adult ticket for Wednesday and Friday. Kids tickets for Saturday’s night race are only $10.
To purchase tickets call 423- BRISTOL or buy them online at http://www.bristoltix.com or you can purchase them directly from any neighborhood Food City store.