Sprint Cars & Late Models Hit The Dirt At Famed Bristol Oval

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THUNDER VALLEY: World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series competitors line up for a dash race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. (NSSN Archives Photo)

THUNDER VALLEY: World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series competitors line up for a dash race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. (NSSN Archives Photo)

In the spring of 2000, Bristol Motor Speedway was transformed into a dirt track as the legendary facility in the hills of eastern Tennessee hosted late-model and sprint-car racing on back-to-back weekends.

Nearly 1,000 truckloads of red clay were brought in from a nearby farm to cover the .533-mile concrete racing surface.

The process started with 700 cubic yards of sawdust being placed on the track, then it was covered with 8,000 cubic yards of dirt. The sawdust acted as a buffer between the dirt and the concrete, allowing for easier removal following the races.

The dirt surface was 75 feet wide and the turns were slightly reconfigured, reducing the banking from 36 degrees to 22 degrees.

The late models of the United Dirt Track Racing Ass’n’s Hav-A-Tampa Series were up first on June 2-3 with 189 cars filling the pit area.

An estimated 45,000 fans were in the stands Saturday night to see Dale McDowell win the 100-lap feature. McDowell took the lead on lap 34 when Mike Balzano went to the pits with a broken wheel and the Chickamauga, Ga., driver was never seriously challenged over the final half of the race.

“This rates right up there with winning the Hav-A-Tampa Shootout and the championship last season,” McDowell said. “The crowd that was here definitely made enough noise to raise the hair up on your arms, and they made this a prestigious race.”

Wendell Wallace finished second with Steve Shaver, Skip Arp and Booper Bare rounding out the top five.

Wallace topped the impressive field during qualifying with a lap of 16.22 seconds at an average speed of 118.298 miles per hour.
Fifty-three sprint cars were on hand when the World of Outlaws rolled into town for two nights of racing June 9-10.

After a very public tantrum when he was penalized for jumping a heat-race restart, Sammy Swindell stormed to victory in the 30-lap finale on Saturday night. Swindell took the lead from Steve Kinser on a lap-14 restart and never looked back on his way to a $20,000 victory.

“This place is awesome,” Swindell said. “It is really fast. I think a lot of guys aren’t used to going that fast. If they build more tracks like this, I could win every race.”

Stevie Smith settled for second followed by S. Kinser, Mark Kinser and Dave Blaney.

M. Kinser won the Friday-night preliminary while Swindell recorded the fastest qualifying lap — 13.860 seconds at 138.442 mph — during the two nights of racing.