Bass Pro Shops and NRA again teamed up to present the legendary Night Race to NASCAR fans.
This feature appears in the October ‘17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
On Aug. 19, NRA and Bass Pro Shops returned to Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) as co-sponsors of the legendary Night Race—a celebration of speed and thunder jammed onto NASCAR’s smallest track, yet surrounded by its largest venue. And as if that wasn’t enough drama, this “knife fight on a paper clip” is staged entirely at night. On purpose.
The Night Race packs 40 stock cars onto its half-mile oval, surrounded by the world’s Last Great Colosseum seating a whopping 160,000 race fans, making it the world’s fifth-largest outdoor venue. The extreme 28-degree banking enables speeds of 130-plus mph. Don’t let the 40-foot-wide track fool you into thinking there is plenty of room to race: Depending on track conditions, all 40 cars crowd onto one of perhaps two fast racing lines for maximum adhesion.
While the Night Race is inarguably the ultimate spectacle of the week, it is by no means the only attraction. The Fan Zone encompasses the acres surrounding the BMS and features an exhausting sprawl of music, food, souvenirs, games, experiences and, above all, the most fascinating people watching in memory.
NASCAR fans are legendary for their pride in, and loyalty to, their country and those who serve her. They wear their dedication to God and country—as well as driver and sponsor—on their hats, shirts, flags, jackets, jewelry, accessories and even their skin. Their enthusiasm for the involvement of NRA with NASCAR in such a visible manner was evident. Trish from North Carolina was at her first NASCAR race: “I don’t own guns, but my husband does. Still, I support the right to own a firearm; we can’t let them take that away.”
We found Brad Jones, a 13-year veteran of the the Burke County, N.C., Sheriff’s Department, wearing a Wounded Warriors t-shirt while competing in the cornhole tournament. He spoke for thousands of cops when he responded to that morning’s news that police officers had been shot in both Florida and Pennsylvania: “There’s not enough training to deal with that one time when someone’s waiting on you. We deal with a lot of negativity. A lot of people don’t want us until they need us; then they’re the first ones running, and we’re the first ones going in. If I can just help one person, all the negatives go away for me.”
Jones supports the right to keep and bear arms for all: “A lot of people come to this race and see this sponsorship; that’s a big thing. Everywhere I go, I carry. If a place won’t allow me to, I don’t go in.”
When the burnout smoke finally cleared, Kyle Busch had cemented his dominance of Bristol’s perilous banks by completing a sweep of the week’s races, winning Wednesday’s Camping World truck race and Friday’s Xfinity race, in addition to Saturday night’s Monster Energy Cup race. As impressive as that accomplishment is, though, it was the words of a humble sheriff’s deputy from North Carolina, playing a friendly round of cornhole, that we will carry with us until next year’s Night Race.
For a photo gallery documenting the exciting event, see our earlier online coverage here.