Food City Race Night in downtown Bristol, autograph signings in Johnson City and Kingsport, a book signing in Johnson City and the biggest dirt track race of the year at Bulls Gap highlight racing activities around the area today.
While the down economy has hurt sponsorship, it’s brought some big name drivers back to Food City Race Night.
Some of the biggest names in the sport will be in attendance including four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who will be honored on the Pepsi Stage at 5:30 p.m., and five-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, who will be honored for the work with his charity organization at 6:15 p.m.
Other drivers signing autographs include Sprint Cup regulars Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle and Robby Gordon.
In addition to a variety of racing-themed entertainment, country music superstar Rodney Atkins, who grew up in Cumberland Gap, will perform on stage at 7:30 p.m.
While many of the big names are in Bristol, seperate autograph signings take place at Johnson City and Kingsport.
Joey Logano and his crew chief Greg Zipadelli will be at the Home Depot in Johnson City from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne and Camping World Truck Series driver John King II are scheduled to be at Fairway Ford in Kingsport from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
n Noted NASCAR author Deb Williams will be signing copies of her newest book, “The Evolution of NASCAR, A Historical Collection” today from 2-4 p.m. at Books-A-Million.
An ETSU graduate, Williams is best known as the longtime editor of NASCAR Winston Cup Scene.
The senior writer for RacinToday.com, she also works as a columnist and freelance writer for noted trade publications, National Speed Sport News and FasTrack. Besides her career as an accomplished journalist, Williams served as a public relations representative for Penske Racing, and taught the Evolution of Southern Motorsports at Appalachian State University.
The 144-page Evolution of NASCAR provides vintage photographs, replica memorabilia pieces and a time capsule of NASCAR’s history from the beach of Daytona and dusty dirt tracks of the Southeast to the sprawling speedways of today.
Williams reintroduces the stars of the sport — Lee and Richard Petty, David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and many others — while recounting the great moments of stock car racing.
What sets this 12-inch by 10-inch hardcover book apart is its unique “scrapbook” format which contains artwork and memorabilia tucked into dozens of pockets throughout the book.
n The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series eighth annual ‘Scorcher’ is scheduled tonight at Volunteer Speedway.
The racing program includes time trials, heat races, b-mains, and a 60-lap Late Model feature. The Fastrak Racing Series-sanctioned Pro (Crate) Late Model division will serve as a support class.
Previous Scorcher winners expected to compete include: defending series champion Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Jimmy Owens of Newport, Rick Eckert of York, Pa., and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. Owens and Bloomquist won races on back-to-back nights last year.
Austin and Ty Dillon — grandsons of legendary NASCAR multi-team owner Richard Childress — are also entered in the race. Austin, a winner at Volunteer Speedway earlier this year, is one of the top drivers in the Camping World Truck Series, while Ty is the current points leader in the ARCA Series.
Both the grandstands and pit gates will open at 4 p.m. Hotlaps are tentatively scheduled to begin at 8 p.m., to be followed by time trials and racing.
Adult grandstand admission is $25, youth (ages 10-15) $10, with kids 9-and-under admitted free in the grandstands. Pit passes and backside tier-parking go for $35, regardless of age.
n Sponsors and manufacturers have several exciting displays set up this week at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Among the largest displays will be ‘Toyota Territory’ located at the Earhart Campground.
A full motion video experience allows fans to ride along in three Toyota extreme vehicles — a NASCAR Camry, a Baja 1000 4Runner and a drag racing Tacoma.
An NHRA Funny Car will also be on display, while fans can ride in the bed of a Tundra Monster Truck from noon to 6 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
The car maker has even built an off-road course where fans can test drive an array of Toyota trucks and SUVs. Many NASCAR drivers, as well as Toyota-sponsored professional bass fisherman Mike Iaconelli, are scheduled to make appearances throughout the weekend.