The New Old Bristol

Stewart and Kenseth racing side-by-side
at August Bristol Night race
Photo – Getty Images for NASCAR

By Jason Schultz

Call it whatever you want; but Bristol Motor Speedway has a new surface with different racing, never seen before at the famed track. 

Some people are referring to Bristol’s most recent new surface as a return to the “old Bristol” which featured one lane racing on the bottom with beating and banging. This new surface is similar to the “Old Bristol” – which was reconfigured after the 2006 season – but it is also still similar to the racing fans saw on Bristol’s  configuration for the spring race this season. 

The Bristol surface that was present from 2007 to the spring of 2012 featured multi-groove racing mainly on the top and side by side action with little beating and banging. This new surface Bruton Smith designed after fans were not happy with what racing at the Bristol Motor Speedway had become, has a whole new style of Bristol racing. 

However, the newest surface at the track is also similar to both surfaces Bristol Motor Speedway has offered in the past. The new surface features one lane racing, like the original Bristol that fans had come to love, but the racing lane is not at the bottom like the original Bristol. The racing lane is at the top – as it was in Bristol’s 2012 March race. 

With the racing lane at the top, it makes it near impossible to run the bottom lane and stay up to speed with the other cars. 

The Bristol surface that was reconfigured before this past spring race had its main racing lane at the top, like the current Bristol. But that’s about the only similarity between the Bristol that was reconfigured before March and the current Bristol surface configuration after March. 

The newest configuration at Bristol is also similar to the “old Bristol” because of the beating and banging. We saw more cautions in the Sprint Cup Race Saturday night then we did in the whole entire spring race weekend at Bristol this year. Fans love to watch the beating and banging of the cars as they go around the track and that’s what fills the grandstands at Bristol. 

Bruton Smith’s ultimate goal of the reconfiguration of Bristol was to fill up the grandstands again and he succeeded. There was a noticeable difference in the amount of people sitting in the grandstand in March than in August. The curiosity of what kind of racing the newest surface would bring, also put fans back in the stands at Bristol. 

The new surface has brought back almost the same type of racing we saw in the 90’s and early 2000’s at Bristol and that was the goal of this one million dollar project. Bristol’s classic racing is back and better than ever! 

Fans can once again expect a show full of drama every time we head to Bristol.

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