NASCAR Tailgating: Bristol Motor Speedway

bristol motor speedway | grand stands

Home to the ‘world’s fastest half mile’ and largest crowd fan wave in history, the Bristol Motor Speedway is the 4th largest sports venue in America, and the 8th largest in the world, hosting up to 165,000 people.

Both NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series races are held here; the Food City 500 (considered one of NASCAR’s top ten annual races) and  The Irwin Tools night race (the popular night-time race, considered “the toughest ticket in NASCAR” to obtain).

The Bristol Motor Speedway is a NASCAR short track venue located in Bristol, Tennessee, also known as “Thunder Valley.” Constructed in 1960, it held its first NASCAR race on July 30, 1961.Despite its short length, Bristol is among the most popular tracks on the NASCAR schedule because of its distinct features.

  1. extraordinarily steep banking
  2. very short length
  3. initial starting grid of 43 vehicles that extends almost halfway around the track
  4. “flying fighter jets in a gymnasium,” the congestion of this facility and the power of the cars has been likened extreme noise
  5. highest number of yellow-flag caution laps in the NASCAR season; with so many cars in such a small space, contact is almost inevitable.

Every year in August, a sell-out crowd of NASCAR’s biggest fans head to Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee for the Irwin Tools Night Race. This NASCAR night race is host to the best tailgate party, fans have all day to hang out in the parking lot and get ready for the race. Most parking requires a fee, however, the speedway owns many lots nearby and does not charge for parking. This three day weekend event features several races, you may not be able to get tickets but if you do you’ll never have a hard time finding where to tailgate.

Know Your Lot: Bristol Motor Speedway


Bristol Motor Speedway is located at 151 Speedway Blvd. in Bristol, Tennessee (view on map).

  • It is recommended that fans make their way into the gates at least one hour prior to green flag to allow proper time for inspection of these items.
  • Permitted Items

    1. One soft-sided cooler, no larger than 14 x 14 x 14 inches (Coolers of this size typically have a removable plastic liner and are branded to hold 24-36 cans of coke or other beverages. The soft sided insulated cooler may contain ice.
    2. Fans are allowed to bring in one carry-in bag only; may not exceed the 14-inch
    3. Binoculars, scanners, headsets, cameras, not in a bag, worn separately over the neck or on the belt and seat cushions carried separately are also allowed.
    4. Seat cushion bags with compartments will be reviewed on an individual basis. All items brought through a grandstand gate will be inspected.
  • Restricted Items

    To ensure that all fans have a safe and enjoyable visit to Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Dragway, the following items will not be permitted inside the gates:
    1. Folding Stadium Seats… Please note that STADIUM CUSHIONS ARE PERMITTED
    2. Umbrellas Strollers
    3. Illegal Drugs
    4. ATV-type vehicles or Golf carts
    5. Fires, Grills, or Fireworks
    6. Weapons of any kind (regardless of Permit)
    7. Folding Chairs
    8. Coolers over 14 inches
    9. More than one carry-in bag (bag cannot exceed size of cooler)
    10. Glass Containers
    11. Pets (except service animals assisting the disabled)
    12. Scaffolds or Platforms
    13. Bicycles
    14. Beer Balls/Kegs
    15. Noise-Makers, Horns, Helium Balloons and Beach Balls
    16. Other items that may pose a safety hazard or diminish the enjoyment of an event by other patrons


NASCAR race weekend parking on Bristol Motor Speedway property requires either a BMS-issued parking pass or a state-issued parking permit (placard or license plate). Drivers using state-issued permits should enter the property at the Bristol Dragway Entrance (off Hwy. 394). All other permit holders should enter at the entrance that is designated in print on the permit.

Bristol Motor Speedway Facility Map

  • Overnight parking is not permitted on Bristol Motor Speedway property
  • Lot E parking passes MUST enter the property at the Bristol Dragway entrance (off Hwy. 394). No Lot E access from the South Entrance off Hwy 11E (Volunteer Pkwy)
  • We remind you that due to traffic congestion immediately following an event, you may be directed to utilize an alternative route.

    Bristol Motor Speedway operates 2 free public parking areas on State Route 394; Shuttle buses serve both areas.
    1. LSpeedway Parking;
      At the corner of White Top Road and Hwy.
    2. 394 Whitetop Creek Park.


    In an effort to improve parking for guests who use state-issued handicap placards, the BMS Events Department requires advance requests to help guests park closer to their seating locations. If you need to obtain a wheelchair space for any of our events please call 423-989-6931. To apply, download the printable 2013 Accessible Needs Parking Permit Application. Using this permit illegally will result in you not being permitted to park in the lots and risks losing the permit.

    For a small donation to Speedway Children’s Charities, fans also may park in the Speedway Children’s Charities lot located just north of the Speedway, past Exide Drive on Hwy. 11E (Volunteer Parkway)

     All public motorcycle parking is located at Sweet Knobs Trail adjacent to The Landing Campground (off Hwy. 394). TDOT rules regarding motorcycles must be adhered to on BMS property, including helmets.

     Additional parking locations located in close proximity to Bristol Motor Speedway are available for race fans attending NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races.  Bus Camping & Parking, Corner of HWY 394 and HWY 390, 423.391.0971 FInish Line Parking, Copperhead Road and Hwy. 394, Bristol, TN 37620 – 423.646.5977 Elizabeth Chapel United Methodist Church, 1041 Elizabeth Chapel Road, Bluff City, TN – 423.538.6311


Bristol Motor Speedway Camping Map

Bristol Motor Speedway owns and manages 5 campgrounds located on the track property. All amenities are included in the price and are only available to Bristol Motor Speedway Campground patrons. If you would like additional information, or would like to inquire about reserving a site(s), please call (423) 989-6944. Visit the Bristol Motor Speedway’s official site for more information.


NET Trans – If you need a ride from the Johnson City area, NET Trans is providing a demand response for you. We will be stopping at the various hotels for races. The cost per trip is $15.00. Please call 1.800.528.7776 to register or for information. Also, please visit us online for more information. The trips on Wednesday and Thursday will be by reservation only. Call today to book your trip 1.800.528.7776.

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