BRISTOL — Business is about to pick up at Bristol Motor Speedway next March.
The NASCAR Truck Series will be the primary support series for the Cup Series as part of the Food City Dirt Race weekend. The change became apparent last month when the Xfinity Series, normally part of the BMS spring weekend, listed Bristol Motor Speedway on only Sept. 17 as part of its 2021 schedule.
During a Tuesday function to announce Sugarlands Distilling Company as the official moonshine of Bristol Motor Speedway, a Sugarlands representative commented on the product being available during next spring’s Cup Series and Truck Series races.
Bristol Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell said an announcement about the track’s 2021 schedule would come later in the week.
“We will announce later this week what the schedule will look like for 2021,” Caldwell said. “Putting dirt on the track is a huge opportunity. It’s natural for us to say how else are we going to use it or showcase the venue when the dirt is down.”
The Food City Dirt Race will be the first time in over 50 years the NASCAR Cup Series has raced on dirt, dating back to Richard Petty’s win in Sept. 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. The Truck Series being part of the weekend makes sense as the teams already have a dirt-track package for their annual visit to the Eldora (Ohio) Speedway, where they have raced since 2013.
Otherwise, it would have added significant expense for the Xfinity Series teams, operating on much tighter budgets than their Cup counterparts.
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Caldwell didn’t comment on rumors of the World of Outlaws Late Models and Sprint Cars racing at BMS the weekend prior to NASCAR weekend. The track hosted both late models and World of Outlaws sprints when the racing surface was covered in dirt back in 2000.
When the World of Outlaws Late Model schedule was revealed weeks ago, it had an event to be announced on April 9-10 weekend. It was later taken off the series’ website although that date remains open. There is also talks of a grassroots racing weekend that would give local drivers a chance to race on the Bristol dirt.
“We are looking at some events that have a local flavor and give local dirt racers a chance to enjoy Bristol Motor Speedway,” Caldwell said. “We’re doing the dirt this year and who knows if we will do it again? We want to make sure we take advantage of it while it’s down.”
Last Wednesday, Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway released a statement about the NHRA possibly returning in 2021 with the Thunder Valley Nationals left off the original schedule.
The statement read, “We continue our conversations with NHRA about Bristol Dragway’s 2021 schedule and will provide more information once finalized.”
Tuesday’s sponsor announcement focused on fan activities with the new Sugarlands Shine Bar 360 located inside the speedway. Turn four inside the infield will be home to the Sugarlands Rooftop Bar.
The Gatlinburg-based distillery is introducing a corn-whiskey to celebrate the 60th anniversary of racing at BMS. One of the signature cocktails will be the Sugarlands “Dirt Slide” to pay homage to the dirt track.
“Stock car racing and moonshine go hand-in-hand, so I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our roots and kick-off our 60th anniversary season in 2021 than by introducing a special limited-edition corn whiskey with Sugarlands Distilling,” Caldwell said. “As the official moonshine of NASCAR and now Bristol Motor Speedway, they are going to bring even more energy to the fan experience and I can’t wait to toast this year’s Food City Dirt Race winner with a Sugarlands’ ‘Dirt Slide’ signature cocktail.”