Located in the charming mountain town of Bristol, TN, Bristol Motor Speedway is the third largest sports venue in the entire country and the premier place of pilgrimage for NASCAR fans in the south. The classical design gave the arena the nickname ‘The Last Great Colosseum,’ but the architecture isn’t the only way the speedway has earned the title. The battles on the track are quite intense and loaded with action. Bristol hosts a leg of the Monster Energy NASCAR and the Hot Rod Power Tour, among others, along with special events like monster truck rallies.
Bristol hosts no fewer than four of the most important NASCAR events over two weekends each year, as well as several race weeks. If you don’t want to stray too far in case you miss some of the action, you’re in luck; Bristol provides some super RV-friendly camping options! The atmosphere in both the crowd and the campground really is one-of-a-kind. Fans at Bristol are so enthusiastic that they got into the 2008 Guinness Book of World records with the largest Mexican Wave in history, and that friendly vibe carries over into your staying spot. Not only that, but the mountain scenery is gorgeous!
Motorsports aren’t all that Bristol Motor Speedway has to offer, though. The town claims to be the place where country music began, and the arena opens its gates for various concerts throughout the year. You can take tours that delve into the track’s history, and fitness competitions are held on site. Racing fans will want to add this place to their RV road trip bucket list.
The cost of your ticket will vary based on the race chosen, how close you want to be to where the magic happens, and when you purchase, the earlier, the better. Generally speaking, a ticket for a weekend race may set you back somewhere between $75 and $200. Kids usually get a $10 fixed-price ticket for all races and seating options. Single event tickets vary between $30 and $170, depending on how popular the race is. You can also purchase extras like pit passes for about $80.
If you’re a frequent visitor, it may be worth your while to get a season ticket for Bristol Motor Speedway, which allows you to attend four races and costs around $250. If you purchase tickets from the official website, you may be able to create a custom package.
Depending on where you’re coming from, getting to Bristol Motor Speedway can be a little confusing, so much so that the speedway has posted detailed directions from at least 15 nearby towns on their website. The arena is on Highway 11E, but if you’re coming from the northwest or southeast, you’re going to need to contend with some winding, mountain roads between highways. The view is undoubtedly gorgeous, but watch out for sharp bends. It’s also worth noting that some roads from and to the race track open and close at different stages during events. Bristol Motor Speedway has posted detailed diagrams and maps to help fans out; they advise against relying only on GPS navigation near the venue on race days.
When it comes to parking at Bristol Motor Speedway, you can have convenient, or you can have budget-friendly. If you’d like to park on site, it might cost between $25-100 depending on the event (ADA permit holders can park for free). There’s also a free parking area about a mile from the race track, with a free shuttle bus to bring you to the speedway entrance, but keep in mind that you won’t be able to leave your car or rig here overnight. Be sure to get there early to snag your spot. Several private parking lots also operate in the area.
This part of East Tennessee isn’t very well served by public transport, but there are still a few options for those who want to leave the car at home. The speedway partners with some ride-sharing bus companies. There’s also a private shuttle company, Rocky Top Tours, that provides transportation between Pigeon Forge and Bristol Motor Speedway during the spring and fall race seasons. Official park and ride spots are located in Bristol, Blountville, Johnson City, and Kingsport; a shuttle from any one of these areas will cost around $20.
You’ll have plenty of RV sites to choose from at Bristol Motor Speedway, from frills-free, budget-friendly options to full hookup spots. The Medallion Campground is the most luxurious choice; it’s close to the track, has its own golf cart shuttle service, and features full hookups at all sites. However, it’s open to season pass holders only. The Dragstrip Campground is the next most comfortable choice–if you can manage to snag a premium site. Spots vary from full hookups to electric only. Dry camping at The Landing will set you back the least amount of dough. Prices vary based on events, but generally, a full race week stay will cost you between $850 for a premium site to $120 for a dry site. All campgrounds have access to showers, flush toilets, a dump station and a shuttle service to the track.
There are plenty of alternative RV parks in the area, from full-service to dry camping. You can opt for convenience and stay just a few streets away, or head a little further afield to stay surrounded by mountain scenery and experience lakeside views. Aside from private RV parks, the area around Bristol is home to more than a handful of US Forest Service campgrounds.
Though the track is only a half-mile, the property itself is vast and hilly. It’s certainly possible to travel around on foot, but thankfully, that’s not your only option. Bristol Motor Speedway operates several trams to bring you from the guest service stations to the Food City to the racetrack and back. Golf shuttle services are also available for a fee, or free to those with mobility issues (the arena isn’t difficult to maneuver a wheelchair). However, there’s a strict ban on private golf carts and ATV vehicles.
Your best bet is to check the weather for the duration of the event you’ll be attending, but in all seasons, be prepared for rain. Waterproof jackets and shoes are a must. Make sure whichever shoes you bring are sturdy and comfortable; it’s a pretty good bet that you’ll need to stand in line for a while.
Earplugs are a top item for your packing list. Bristol Motor Speedway is also known as Thunder Valley because the track is loud even compared to other motorsports arenas. Ear defenders or noise canceling headphones will also do the trick. The speedway offers hearing protection to kids free of charge. Shade in the campgrounds can be hard to come by, so if you’re hanging out during the day, a shade structure of some sort is a good idea.
Though there are several medical stations on the property, it never hurts to bring your own first aid kit. You may be covered on the first aid front, but there aren’t any water filling stations near the track. Be sure to fill up at the campground. Bristol Motor Speedway may not display a written policy on how fans might bring medication into the track area, but it’s still best to make sure all pills are in their original packaging to avoid any confusion.
You’re free to cook at the campground but be warned that open flames are prohibited. If you have a camp stove, now’s the time to break it out or be prepared to enjoy the kitchen setup in your rig. Bristol Motor Speedway does allow guests to bring in outside food, drink, and alcohol. You’re allowed one small cooler that fits the permitted dimensions per guest into the races. Be prepared to have it searched, though, and avoid bringing any glass containers.
Since a race ticket allows fans to come and go as they please, you can check out the range of restaurants on offer in Bristol itself. You can leave behind any misconceptions you might have about small-town food. You’ll find something to suit almost every taste, from authentic Tennessee BBQ to Greek and Japanese food and everything in between. However, you might find it difficult to get your hands on something vegan.
While the restaurant offerings in Bristol are delightfully comprehensive, the food at the track is delicious and filling. As well as some restaurant chain options, you’ll find plenty of BBQ classics, burgers that range from the plain to the inventive, hotdogs, and ice-cream. If you have specific dietary needs, you might want to bring something from the campsite that fits your needs.
Good security makes for long lines. Bristol Motor Speedway recommends everyone arrive at the entrance at least an hour before start time because absolutely everything is going to be searched. One carry-in bag per person is allowed, and while there’s no clear-bag policy, you’ll save yourself an awful lot of time if you opt for one. The property is patrolled by private security, and there’s generally a police presence at larger events.
East Tennessee does get all four seasons, so weather concerns are going to vary with the date of your chosen event. In general, precipitation can be a concern in this part of the mountains, so be prepared for rain. Storms aren’t unheard of in summer, and on several occasions crowds have needed to be evacuated from the stands. Staff members are very alert to weather conditions, but as always, if you feel unsafe, find cover or inquire as needed.
Due to the nature of motorsports, the medical care on site is pretty stellar. Not only are the first aid stations staffed by paramedics, but there are also doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners ready to go. The property may be large, but there are multiple stations in multiple locations, so you’ll never be too far away from help if you need it. You’ll find general practitioners, an emergency department, and a pharmacy in Bristol itself.