NASCAR: How Bristol Motor Speedway Went From Concrete to Dirt

by Jonathan Howard

NASCAR does a lot of work to get that Bristol concrete covered up with that sweet, red clay dirt. It’ll take weeks to clean up after. There are a few drivers that just don’t even want to do the dirt race anymore. However, if fans keep tuning in and showing up at the track, then it’s going to stay. So, how do they get all of that dirt down there?

Things get started with a layer of sawdust on the entire track. All of the pavement is covered in three to four inches of the stuff to protect it from damage. Once they have that prepped, they can start bringing in the trucks. 2,300 truckloads are brought in to cover the half-mile circle. That red clay covers just about everything from the infield to pit road and of course, every inch of the track. In all, 23,000 cubic yards of clay.

This year, there are adjustments being made, vice president of operations for Speedway Motorsports, Steve Swift, told Fox News Autos. The dirt being brought in has been mixed for a more even texture on the track. A uniform track is going to help those cars whip around the 16 to 20-degree angle turns. They make the clay deep, too. Depending on the area of the track, it ranges from one to two feet deep on the straights and six to 12 feet of depth on the turns.

Since last year, the Bristol concrete is turned to dirt and this year they had a warmup to set the track surface. The Karl Kustoms Birsol Dirt Nationals came to town in March and got the surface shaken down. With the Cup Series race being on Easter, it is a big deal. Still, some drivers just don’t like the race.

Kyle Larson Would Like to See Bristol Concrete Instead of Dirt

Among the detractors in the Cup Series for the dirt race, this weekend is Kyle Larson. The 2021 Cup Series champ isn’t a fan. That’s for sure. While he has a lot of experience and success on the dirt throughout various leagues, the driver would like one thing to change if they are going to do the dirt race. Windshields. However, it seems he would like to see Bristol concrete more than the clay dirt.

“So in my opinion,” Larson said. “If we’re not going to take the windshield out, we might as well just never put dirt on Bristol again – which I’m all for not putting dirt on Bristol whether we have windshields or not. I think the racing at Bristol is amazing just as normal.”

Well, he’s going to have to deal with another race at Bristol on the dirt. Maybe the reworking of the dirt and the surface will improve conditions. This is the first time the Next Gen car has been used on a dirt surface. It is the last kind of track that the vehicle has yet to officially race on. A big Easter weekend for NASCAR.