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Ford Speedway In Lights brightens more lives than just those who see it during the holidays

Katina Rose • Nov 25, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Speedway Children’s Charities brings a smile to the faces of many children in our area, not only during the Speedway In Lights season, but also throughout the year to its grant recipients.

“Since the Speedway Children’s Charities in Bristol started in 1997, we have given away $7 million and, last year, 87 organizations received approximately $712,000 in grant money from the speedway,” said Claudia Byrd, director of the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities.

The Jeff Byrd Grant, in honor of the long-time Bristol Motor Speedway president and general manager, provides one $50,000 grant each year to a selected agency.

Non-profit organizations in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia complete grant applications and go through a selection committee to be chosen as a grant recipient. Last year, around $1.2 million was requested and Byrd said, in the future, they would like to be able to grant all of the applicable organizations. But, for now, they are making a lot of children in programs ranging from Boys and Girls Clubs, CASA, after-school programs and food banks happier because of the funding being provided.

A lot of people may not realize how a traditional trip to the Speedway In Lights with family and friends is actually benefitting children in the local area. Last year, a record weekend attendance of 20,000 visitors took place with hopes of exceeding that this year.

This four-mile ride into a winter wonderland opened for the season on Nov. 15 with the 17th season featuring a new Battle of Bristol Fan Zone and Light Display. The Johnson Controls Ice Rink and HVAC Chill Hill will open again this year to provide a complete evening of winter fun.

The 2013-2014 route will feature returning favorites such as the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies display and the SUBWAY Symphony of Lights, a synchronized light exhibit covering the Darrell Waltrip grandstand and featuring more than 300,000 LED lights blinking in time with the music.

The SUBWAY® Symphony of Lights also features a large Christmas tree, along with dazzling snowflakes that dance in harmony on a large, ever-changing background. Light covered arches, reflecting brilliant colors on more than three acres of aluminum grandstand seating, set the stage for a magnificent scene.

Along with these returning favorites, this year’s tour gives fans of the gridiron a Battle of Bristol preview. It features a lighted, football-themed display set atop the Goodyear building in turns one and two of the BMS track and a small-scale replica of the field, complete with Virginia Tech and Tennessee end zones, positioned on the front stretch pit road.

The Speedway In Lights Christmas Village will provide the opportunity to visit Santa Claus, enjoy carnival rides and toast marshmallows over a fire. Those stopping may also take in the Battle at Bristol Fan Zone and, on some nights, be able to test their skills at various interactive football activities.

Speedway In Lights has made a large impact on children’s charities in the local community.

“We want to thank everyone for their continued support of the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities,” Byrd said.

Guests must enter the sparkling holiday display route at the Bristol Dragway entrance, just off Hwy. 394. Ford Speedway In Lights remains open through Jan. 4. Tickets for the show, open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m., are available at Bristol Dragway Tower ticket booths.

Prices for cars are $12, Sunday through Thursday, and $15, Friday and Saturday. Activity van tickets are $20 each night and tickets for buses are $85 each night. Both the Johnson Controls Ice Rink ($7 admission/skate rental) and HVAC Chill Hill ($7) opened Nov. 14.

For more information concerning Ford Speedway In Lights, the Johnson Controls Ice Rink or HVAC Chill Hill, please call 855-580-5525.

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