Little did anybody know that when Bristol Motor Speedway, a little half-mile race track, opened in 1961 that it would become NASCAR’s most popular venue. And a few years later, when Bristol Dragway opened in 1965, it too immediately became an NHRA classic.

BMS hosts two NASCAR Sprint Cup races every year – in April and August, to go along with two Xfinity events, a Camping World Truck race and a couple of Modified races. The races are exceptionally popular with fans visiting the famous .533-mile track from all 50 states and nearly two dozen countries.

When fans are at the Speedway for the NASCAR races, there’s much more to do than simply watch races. The track offers a number of other activities, many of them, like track laps and cornhole tournaments, benefit Speedway Children’s Charities. Fans can also purchase any variety of passes which will allow them access to the pits, let them attend the pre-race concert or the driver’s meeting or be part of driver appearances in the hospitality or suite area.

dragway-fullThe Dragway, also known as Thunder Valley, hosts an NHRA event every Father’s Day weekend. The three-day event, which always features a driver’s autograph session on Saturday, features both grandstand tickets and Thunder Valley Club seating, both of which give fans an access to drivers. In fact, any ticket purchased is a pit pass too, allowing fans the chance to venture to the pit area whenever they choose.

NASCAR Visitors can take part in Food City Race Night – held in August on Thursdays in downtown Bristol and in April at the Speedway – and also grab a great seat for the Transporter Parade, held that same night in August. Also, when the races aren’t in town visitors can take a track tour, which lets them ride around the Speedway and down the Dragway, as well as tour the owner’s suite.

speedway-in-lightsThe Speedway and Dragway are also home to Speedway In Lights, a four-mile drive-through holiday light show that takes place every year. Featuring more than two million lights and dozens of animated displays, Speedway In Lights, starts just before Thanksgiving and ends right after New Year’s Day. And that’s not all – if you like ice skating, you can do that too, as well as take a ride down Chill Hill in an inner tube.

Fans can fly in to Tri-Cities Regional Airport, or drive in, and lots of them – nearly 60 percent of NASCAR fans, in fact – camp. A trip to Bristol, whether it’s for the NASCAR events or the NHRA race, offers visitors the opportunity not just to see all the action on the track, but to explore the many fun facets of the area.

VirginianGolf3If you’re looking to play golf there are any number of courses in the area – including Tri-Cities Golf Course, which is five minutes from the track, Steele Creek Golf Course, the Country Club of Bristol, or The Virginian.

If you want to do some fishing or boating, South Holston Lake is the perfect place and Steele Creek and Sugar Hollow offer some great hiking and biking trails.

There’s also plenty of shopping in downtown Bristol, as well as at The Pinnacle and The Falls and the Bristol Mall. Lots of amazing restaurants, many of them locally-owned, offer you a number of great food options.

If you’re into music – and who isn’t – Bristol, the Birthplace of Country Music – is never in short supply. You can find live music in the downtown area on most nights and if you’d like to visit the Birthplace of Country Music museum, you can learn a lot about Bristol’s musical heritage.