Transitioning Bristol Motor Speedway from a NASCAR track to a football field will be done on a tight schedule for a highly-anticipated game.
On September 10, Bristol Motor Speedway will host a contest between Virginia Tech and Tennessee–a fitting rivalry for a track that sits about 20 minutes south of the Virginia/Tennessee boarder. That will add to an action-packed time period for Bristol Motor Speedway, which is also going to host NASCAR’s night race on August 20.
Within that time period, a lot of work will need to be done to make the facility fit for an NCAA game, and it will not be a matter of merely putting a field into place. Suitable locker rooms will need to be put into place, plus seating will need to be installed around the parameter of the field to put fans closer to the action. For now, the project has a firm schedule, and it is one that university officials are comfortable with. More from The Daily Progress:
Work will begin immediately after the race. The school logos and end zone paint will be among the final touches and those are scheduled to be done Sept. 4.
The two main buildings in the track’s infield will be converted into the team’s locker rooms. Tennessee will use the building underneath victory lane, which normally hosts the prerace drivers meetings. The Hokies will be across the infield in the Goodyear building, which is used by NASCAR officials on race days.
AstroTurf will be installed and the infield surface will be raised 3½ feet. That is slated to be an eight-day project that starts on Aug. 25.
“They seem like they have their act together and they know how important it is as well,” said Tech athletics director Whit Babcock. “So I believe they have a good plan and they laid it out, but, yeah, 11 or 12 days, that’ll be hustling to turn it (from) a race to a football stadium.”
One project that is already complete is the addition of Colossus, the track’s new suspended video scoreboard, believed by track officials to be the first of its kind at an outdoor venue. With the field going up in the middle of the infield, BMS had to remove the pylon in the center of the track. Rather than construct screens in various spots, the 30-foot tall, 63-foot wide, 700-ton scoreboard was conceived and installed.
First announced back in 2013, the game is the result of years of planning and comes with several interesting story lines. The total capacity at Bristol Motor Speedway is expected to be about 150,000, which could make it the most well-attended game in college football history. The game will also be nationally televised on ABC.
While this game will have significance in the history of the track, it is not the first nor the last football game to be held at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins squared off at the speedway for a preseason game in 1961. One week after Virginia Tech and Tennessee face off, Bristol Motor Speedway will be the site of a game between ETSU and WCU.
Rendering courtesy of Bristol Motor Speedway.