NASCAR 2021 Bristol Dirt Race



The upcoming NASCAR races evoke an old tradition.

Nessah Wendt, Columnist

For the first time in nearly 50 years, NASCAR will return to its roots and race all three of their top series on dirt just like they did when the cars were not nearly as sophisticated. The asphalt at the half mile Bristol motor speedway in Tennessee has been completely covered with 2300 truckloads of dirt in order to be ready for this weekend’s race.

Though the racing on dirt actually got underway last weekend, March 20th- 21st, with the Bristol Dirt Nationals, the Food City Dirt Race weekend will be this weekend, March 27th- 28th, and two World of Outlaws weekends on April 8th- 10th and April 22nd- 24th, before they sweep up all the dirt and race again on the asphalt in September.

According to Bristol Motor Speedway, the construction is using a GPS system on the dirt moving equipment that talks to roughly 26 to 30 satellites at a time. The information tells them where on the track the blade needs to be to make the dirt thicker or thinner based on the need. “With the GPS system it gives us an accuracy within five-hundredths of an inch. You are talking about the fineness of a hair. It’s quite amazing technology actually.” said Steve Swift, senior vice president of operations and development for Speedway Motorsports.

The Cup cars that will be racing this weekend are nearly 2000 lbs heavier than the average dirt racer and do not carry as much horsepower which makes for an interesting race because no one knows what to expect. “I think it’s all really unknown until we all get there and go racing,” said Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson tells Bristol Motor Speedway. Larson’s dirt-track experience far exceeds that of most current Cup Series drivers and includes a victory at the prestigious Chili Bowl Nationals in both 2020 and 2021. Fellow Cup driver Christopher Bell is also one of the favorites as he just made the transition from dirt to the top series.

Racing on dirt is not new to NASCAR, but racing today’s cars on an asphalt track covered in dirt is. One thing for sure, it will be exciting for whoever will win.