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A NASCAR Fan’s Guide to Bristol, TN

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Picture of Paige Martin

Paige Martin

She's a diehard race fan from Nashville, TN who's happiest at a racetrack!
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Bristol Motor Speedway has been welcoming NASCAR fans to its quiet corner in the Tennessee hills for over 60 years. Undoubtedly the town of Bristol has grown around its most prized possession, Bristol Motor Speedway, so as you plan out your Night Race weekend here are a few must-dos while you’re in town

Where to Eat

Cootie Browns

15 Minutes from the track on the main drag. A laid-back atmosphere with a HUGE menu variety. A personal favorite is the BBQ Bacon Burger with Sweet Potato Chips. 

*Insider tip: Plan to eat lunch here the day haulers are scheduled to come in, you can request a table on their porch and get a perfect view*

Johnny Bruscos

30 Minutes from the track at The Pinnacle. It is a smaller chain, but the New York Style Pizza is an East Tennessee Rarity. I highly recommend the garlic parmesan bites as an appetizer. 

Michael Waltrip’s Brewery

20 Minutes from the Track just outside the downtown district. Definitely check their socials before you go because they hold a lot of special events during Race Week, like lawnmower races with Steward Friesen. You can also go just to purchase six packs of his four beers.

Pal’s

Closest one is less than 10 minutes from the track. It’s a building with a giant hot dog, kind of hard to miss. It’s an East Tennessee staple and a local favorite. It is drive-thru only so would be a great place to stop after you pick up groceries from Food City. 

What to Do

The Pinnacle

After you enjoy those delicious Garlic Parmesan Bites from Johnny Bruscos you can walk around the great shops that are at the Pinnacle. There are tons of options but I’m partial to Merc 423, Alumni Hall, and Bass Pro Shops.

Birthplace of Country Music Museum

As an affiliate of the Smithsonian you can enjoy interactive exhibits that highlight how Bristol, TN played a role in getting Country Music to its fame. This would be perfect to check out on a rainy day. 

State Street

There are bars, restaurants, and stores lining both sides of the street, and plenty of live music options as well! A must-do, especially at night under the lights of the famed Bristol sign that straddles Tennessee and Virginia–a great photo op!

Photo Ops

Speaking of a great photo opportunity, while you’re downtown you have to find the iconic mural of Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty! It’s located right off State Street.

Once you get to the track, a photo in front of the Bristol Tower is great for your Instagram story to show all your friends how excited you are to be at the world’s fastest half-mile! 

I don’t think you can go to Bristol and not say “It’s Bristol Baby” so you might as well take a picture with the sign out front that is right in the middle of the fan zone! 

*Insider tip: do this EARLY on the weekend because by the time Cup race day rolls around the line will be insane*

Tips for While You’re at the Track

There are multiple fan zones!

While the official fan zone with the NASCAR merch haulers is right at the front of the track off of turn 2, there is an additional fan zone towards the drag strip. This area usually is where larger sponsors and show cars are set up, in the past few years Bass Pro and Chevy had their set-ups back here. 

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There are merchandise tents and more sponsor setups in a gravel lot right beside the main fan zone, this is definitely something you’ll want to walk through to find great deals on new and historic NASCAR merch. You can also find additional tents set up across the road


Best way to meet Drivers

A unique positive to the size of Bristol is that the drivers have to walk outside the track to get to their buses. There’s a black iron fence outside of gate nine in turn 3 that you can find fans lined up against hoping for a glimpse of their favorite driver as he walks out of the tunnel to his bus. 

*Insider Tip: Line up here a few minutes before the end of practice or qualifying. Most of the time drivers are more likely to stop for autographs and pictures because they aren’t on such a tight schedule*


The Bruton Smith Building

Before you even walk in, take a minute to stroll through the monuments honoring Bristol’s greatest out front. When you get inside head left to the exclusive gift shop! You’ll find some merch for your favorite drivers and tons of official Bristol Motor Speedway memorabilia and merchandise that they don’t have in the merch hauler down in the fan zone. 

Now, the Bristol Motor Speedway property is everything except level, but their staff and volunteers are always close by with plenty of golf carts and trams to get you where you need to go. We would love to see your pictures at these locations. You can tag us in your photos @dailydownforce on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

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Picture of Paige Martin

Paige Martin

She's a diehard race fan from Nashville, TN who's happiest at a racetrack!
All Posts