Have you ever wondered what attending an event at the Rome Coliseum would’ve been like? Let me tell you about a recent life changing experience I was fortunate to have with my wife and kids. In a little town in north east Tennessee stands what is know as the “Last Great Coliseum.” What a colossal place it is, let me tell you. It will take you by surprise your first time approaching the track, but I promise that no madder what series is on the track its an experience you will never soon forget.
The Experience Starts
My weekend plans had been paid for since April, and my excitement had grown ever so much with each passing race weekend. I was finally going to be able to attend the Bass Pro NRA night race at Bristol. The weekend started with a some what long drive almost three hours to our hotel. You wouldn’t have never known I was dreading the drive, because my excitement was overwhelming. Friday night was going to be just the beginning with the Xfinity race. Then the main show Saturday.
So when we checked into our hotel Friday we had about an hour or so to set around before leaving for some dinner and the drive to the track. The anticipation and excitement where almost unbearable at this point.
We got to the track around 6 pm Friday night. After attending the July race in Daytona I didn’t really know what to expect. What I was welcomed to was a dream literally for race fans. I mean the first eye catching thing is the huge track, and I mean huge! Then you’ve got the countless amounts of merchandise tents set up in the lot across from the track. Where you could buy just about anything your race loving heart desired. I mean I seen a tent with scrap pieces of old race cars.
Not only did you have countless tents you’ve got a literal merchandise hauler village. I mean you could get anything and everything for your favorite driver at these truck. From shirts, hoodies all the way to die cast car. It was a dream come true to a fan who was attending his first race at the track after watching years of races on TV. Before even seeing a car turn laps, I was like a two year old kid again set loose in a candy store with no parents.
Food City 300
The twenty second race, of the Xfinity Schedule and my first real race experience at the “Last Great Coliseum.” So, after the walk from our parking lot to the DW seats section M it was finally time for some driver intro’s. Me and my wife were attending our first race weekend at Bristol, but with that I was finally getting able to introduce my two year old, car loving son to a sport I’ve been watching for as long as I can remember with my own dad. While my nine month old son was there I know the chances of him remembering his weekend are slim to none, it was still an awesome memory for me and there dad to have them both with me.
The ear protection we got for both boys allowed for them to still hear things but it not be over whelming. With that being said It was awesome for me as a life long race fan and father to see my two year old son waving back at the drivers during the parade laps. It was almost like he felt like he was the only one they were waving at in the stands. After the parade laps and the national anthem, the command was gave for the driver to start there engines.
Let me tell you when those engines came to life in the “Last Great Coliseum” the smile on my face probably rivaled that of my two year old sons. His head snapped around from looking at me to instantly being focused on the race track. That alone showed me that we made the right choice bringing him. The drivers got out on the track for pace laps and my attention was locked for the next couple of hours to nothing but the track. I was going to watch one of arguably the best drivers at Bristol Kyle Busch battle with the top talent of the Xfinity series. One of those being defending series champion Tyler Reddick who was starting dead last and would have to serve a pass thru penalty to start the race.
So, obviously you all know the outcome Tyler was able to win the race and overcome outstanding odds. While some in the community still hates that he even got to race because of failed inspections, let me just say watching the young man battle thru the field just added to the thrill of the show. Along with so many more factors. I mean while I am not a Kyle Busch hater hearing the crowd erupt when his engine blew after winning stage two was crazy. The wreck that took out so many good cars early on like Erik Jones, Joey Logano, and even collected championship contender Christopher Bell was right in front of us almost, and seeing a wreck live at Bristol is a lot more exhilarating then on TV. You realize that when things go wrong on the half mile track there isn’t any where to run.
None the less the first night of my very much anticipated race weekend was over, and it didn’t disappoint. It very much kept the bar raised extremely high for what was approaching quickly Saturday night with the cup series Bass Pro NRA night race. The “Last Great Coliseum” was about to be rocking.
Bass Pro NRA Night Race
You couldn’t contain my excitement once the day started. My family and I had roughly an hour drive ahead of us before we got to the track area to park. While en route to the track we could see a plane and banner flying high in the sky above the track, advertising different products. That alone after my experience in Daytona told me its cup series race day!
While approaching the track, the traffic was flowing as well as the crowd walking to the track from cars. We got to the track pretty early expecting more traffic than what was actually on the road. Which was fine in a sense because all it did was help with the anticipation I have held onto since early April. The pre race concert was a little known guy by the name of Travis Denning. I have believe it or not heard some of his music and was some what excited. After a pretty good pre race concert, it was time for diver intro’s, and pre race commands.
The huge American flag on the front stretch, the kids singing the national anthem, and that fly over was unlike anything I ever experienced. Due to the rain delay in Daytona we didn’t the full experience of a the pre race procedures. Boy was I glad to get to experience it this time. I mean the huge crowd didn’t let down when it came to expressing emotions of drivers they like or did not like for that matter either. One of arguably NASCAR most hated drivers Kyle Busch got booed, along with the 2018 champion Joey Logano. One thing as a NASCAR fan I love about the sport when a fan base is passionate they do not care to show the passion openly. They will boo and cheer at the drop of the hat. After the awesome show of passionate fandom it was finally time for some cup racing!
While there was not a whole lot of beating and banging the show was one you definitely shouldn’t have missed if you did by chance. The on track product provided twenty three lead changes, and a total of eight cautions. Yes, I know the finish wasn’t what a lot of people wanted to see, but the battle between fan favorite Matt DiBenedetto and Denny Hamlin had fans on the edge of there seats. I’m sure a lot of people wanted Matt to win especially since a few days earlier he was announced to be loosing his ride at the end of the year. Even with Hamlin winning the race the experience was over all amazing.
Conclusion of The Last Great Coliseum
In conclusion the weekend lived up to ever bit of the hype. It should for sure be a bucket list item for a life long NASCAR fan like myself. I have watched years of Bristol races and especially Bristol night races. The nicknames for the track do not lie. The “Last Great Coliseum” and “Worlds Fastest Half Mile” this track is for sure a Coliseum and the laps ticked off so quick I couldn’t believe.
The whole experience was like triggering an addiction. Might I even say a some what expensive addiction. Much like at Daytona the smell of the burning rubber, the race fuel burning was just exhilarating. So, after attending complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to track not take anything away from the bigger tracks like Daytona, but I will be much more likely to head back north to Bristol than south to Daytona. After watching those cars run 180 plus mph around the high banks I am convinced there is no bad seat in the “Last Great Coliseum.” If your ever considering a race to go see for the first time put the Bristol night race at the top of your list it is a must see event for race fans.