What’s better than a day at the races? A night at the races! The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee is an amazing experience for everyone who attends. This is NASCAR, baby! With the traditional oval track and 500 laps at speeds of over 100 miles an hour, you’ll love watching these beauties fly around the speedway in search of first place. And they don’t start until evening, so you’ll get to see them racing at night. Racing can be so much more exciting in the dark.
Located in the Smoky Mountain area, the beautiful surroundings make this track the perfect place for RVers to camp at the races. In fact, Bristol Motor Speedway has thousands of campsites from primitive to full hookups that can accommodate rigs up to 100 feet long. This is a major event and very popular with outdoor enthusiasts as well as racing fans. The campgrounds are where the fans come together before and after the races to share their experiences and have fun.
If you have kids, bring them along, too. Their tickets are usually $10, no matter where you sit. And the track offers a Kids Zone activity area during the whole weekend near the north entrance free of charge. Sign up for the Bristol Kids Club and Tag-A-Kid program while you are here. You can even sign up for the pre-race track walk and sign the finish line. The kids will love it, and so will you.
Watching the races from anywhere in the stadium is a blast, and you can choose from over 162,000 seats at Bristol Motor Speedway. Prices often range from $60 to $200, depending on where you sit. Camping is extra unless you purchase a camping package. These prices vary quite a bit because of the large number of campgrounds onsite.
Being in the extreme northeast corner of Tennessee, Bristol Motor Speedway just off I-81 is surrounded by gorgeous mountain ranges from the Smokies to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The track is nine miles to the southwest of Bristol, 109 miles to the northeast of Knoxville, and only a few hours from Chattanooga to the southwest and Nashville to the west. No matter where you are coming from, you will have a stunning view, so make sure your passengers have their cameras ready. Check road and weather conditions are accessible via Tennessee's 511 services.
Motorists won’t have any trouble finding a place to park. But how good of a spot you get depends on how early you get there and how much you want to pay. The track offers one large free parking area on Highway 394, but that will fill up fast, so you may end up in one of the many pay parking lots around the property. Most of them offer free shuttle service to the track, though, so you don't have to wear yourself out getting to your seat. And if you camp on site, you don’t have to worry about parking at all.
Because there are not many public transportation choices in and around Sullivan County, its best to camp on site. However, if you are camping elsewhere and need a ride, you can check with one of the speedway partners for more information. There are also several private shuttle companies in the area that operate during the race seasons. Of course, you can always call a taxicab or use a rideshare app.
Bristol Motor Speedway has a ridiculous amount of camping. The track owns five campgrounds, but there are 25 other campgrounds around the park that are privately owned and available to the public. That means there are 30 campgrounds here! If you need electricity, the Medallion Motorhome Area is the only Bristol campground for that, but some of the privately-owned campgrounds offer hookups as well.
Some of the private campgrounds offer free shuttle service; many have full hookups; a few have entertainment and recreational activities, and several can handle RVs up to 100 feet long! With over two thousand campsites around the stadium, you are sure to find one that is perfect for you.
You’ll also be just 20 miles from the Cherokee National Forest, which has a plethora of campgrounds in its 650,000 acres of woodlands. In fact, there are over a dozen campgrounds that accommodate RVs up to 40 feet in length within 20 miles, and that does not even include the 30 at the track. You should have no problem finding a spot for your RV for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
There are quite a few shuttles in and around Bristol Motor Speedway. Depending on which campground you are at or where you are parked, you won’t have to wait long for a shuttle to come by and pick you up. In fact, many of the campgrounds have their own shuttles as well, so you can utilize them if you happen to be staying there. Otherwise, you’ll be doing quite a bit of walking if you want to explore on your own.
While it doesn’t hurt to check the forecast before packing, you will most likely need some cool, summery clothing much of the time you are in Bristol. The temps are usually in the upper 70s, so bring some shorts and tank tops as well as jeans and t-shirts. Since the nights can drop down to the 40s, you may want a jacket and an extra blanket or two.
If you are going to bring more than a phone and your keys with you, it is important to use a clear bag such as a small see-through backpack. The rules say no larger than 14”x14”x14” so make sure you measure it before heading into the stadium, as they offer no exceptions. And they will check each bag. You can also bring a cooler of the same dimensions with food and drinks inside as long as there is no glass.
There are three must-haves when it comes to the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, and they are comfortable shoes, sunblock, and insect repellent. Bug spray is the most important, considering you are going to be in hot and muggy weather at night during the race. But since you will be out during the day in the Tennessee sun, sunblock is also important.
Depending on which campground you choose for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, you may be cooking inside the RV or outside. If you get a spot with hookups, you can use your stove, but if you get one of the dry campgrounds, you may be BBQing or using a camp stove. No matter what you choose, try preparing some meals ahead of time and freeze them to make it easier to prepare.
Once you get checked into the track, you can leave and come back as often as you like so you can take a trip into Bristol for a bite to eat while you are there. Tennessee is famous for its BBQ ribs and pulled pork, so you can find plenty of those types of restaurants around. However, you’ll also find Mexican food, Asian cuisine, steak, lobster, and fast food joints.
Bristol Motor Speedway is sort of like a city within a stadium and has a plethora of food options to choose from all over the place. In fact, there are so many choices that they separate the vendors into 10 different sections. You can grab a burger or chili dog at one of the family places, pizza at any number of pizza places, giant roast beef sandwiches, chicken chunks from Pinty’s, and top it all off with a frosty beer or soft drink.
Security is tight at Bristol Motor Speedway. Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race fans are likely to see plenty of security staff as well as Tennessee State Police officers roaming around the grounds. The clear bag policy is strictly enforced, and security reserves the right to search any bag while you are on site. Do not bring weapons, drugs, fireworks, drones, or anything else on the no-no list, as seen on the track's website. Any guest who violates the rules will be asked to leave.
September weather in Bristol is typically in the high 70s to low 80s during the day. Nights can drop down to the lower 50s and upper 40s, so you may need a jacket or long-sleeved shirt for the race. Rain and storms can be a problem at times, so be prepared for weather emergencies. It is best to check the forecast in Tennessee before you pack to make sure you have what you need.
You’ll probably see a large number of medical staff onsite because of the nature of the event. Bristol Motor Speedway has several first aid stations staffed by medical professionals located around the stadium. If you are in need of a hospital or pharmacy, there are several in Bristol, just a few minutes away.