It’s been 20 long years since race fans in the Appalachian Highlands Region have been treated to the ultra-fast World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series at iconic Bristol Motor Speedway.
On April 22-24 the “Greatest Show on Dirt” will make its much-anticipated return to Thunder Valley for the first time since 2001 on the dirt-transformed high-banks of The World’s Fastest Half-Mile. For fans who may have never seen the Outlaws in action, the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars are lightweight vehicles that must weigh a minimum of 1,400 pounds including the driver and have large adjustable wings and large rear tires that help transfer the car’s power to the track. The 410 cubic-inch engines are loud and fueled by methanol and produce around 900 horsepower.
A star-studded 38-car field is expected for the World of Outlaws Bristol Throwdown, including five drivers who competed in the historic World of Outlaws races at Bristol in 2000 and 2001. The Outlaws will be joined at the event by the popular Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds and drivers on both circuits will race for a pile of money, Bristol bragging rights, as well as a few highly-coveted BMS Gladiator Swords that will be given to the weekend winners.
One of the drivers who competed in the World of Outlaws Challenge back in the early 2000s was 10-time series champion and 299-time Outlaws winner Donny Schatz, who drives the No. 15 car for Tony Stewart. Schatz grabbed one of the feature victories at BMS in 2001, holding off Jeff Shepard and Sammy Swindell to take the checkered flag.
“The magnitude of it was surreal,” Schatz recalled. “It was a big ordeal. It’s a really unique setting, like it’s truly a colosseum. It was fast. We did a lot of things to cars back then 20 years ago to make sure they would withstand the speed and the banking…The idea is awesome. It’s certainly a thrill for many to be back.”
The other Bristol “veterans” who will be making a return are Jac Haudenschild, Tim Shaffer, Paul McMahan and Jason Sides.
Many of the NASCAR fans who attend the event will no doubt be cheering on Cup Series regular Kyle Larson, who will be at the controls of Paul Silva’s No. 57 machine in the Throwdown. Larson has been a frequent visitor to the Bristol dirt track this spring as he finished second in both Super Late Model features during the Bristol Dirt Nationals in mid-March and competed in both the NASCAR Cup and Truck Series races on dirt during the historic Food City Dirt Race weekend at the end of March.
Last year Larson competed in a bunch of World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series races, earning an impressive 12 feature victories. He will certainly be one of the pre-race favorites.
The list of potential winners also includes defending series champ and five-time 2021 winner Brad Sweet, who drives for Kasey Kahne Racing. Other ’21 season winners are Sheldon Haudenschild, who drives for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s race team, rising star Logan Schuchart, David Gravel, Carson Macedo, Aaron Reutzel and James McFadden, who also drives for Kahne. Others to watch are Kraig Kinser, Giovanni Scelzi, and Rico Abreu.
The ground-pounding Super DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds is the premier touring circuit for Big Block Modifieds in the nation and competes primarily in the Northeast and Canada. A Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified is a purpose-built open-wheel race car, weighing in at 2,500 pounds including the driver. The 467-cubic inch V-8 engine is fueled by methanol, and produces roughly 650-800 horsepower.
Top drivers in the Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified Series includes multi-time season champs Matt Sheppard, Brett Hearn, Danny Johnson, Billy Decker and defending champ (from 2019) Mat Williamson. Other drivers in the division to watch are Erik Rudolph, Mike Mahaney, Larry Wight, Peter Britten, Kevin Root, Chris Hile and Jimmy Phelps.
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars and Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds will have practice sessions on Thursday, April 22 and will be followed by full racing programs on Friday and Saturday, April 23-24, consisting of hot laps, qualifying, heat races and last chance showdowns. A 25-lap main feature race with a $10,000 prize to the winner will be held Friday night for the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars, followed by a 40-lap main feature with a $10,000 payout to the winner for the Super DIRTcar Series. The racing action on Saturday will be headlined by a 25-lap World of Outlaws Sprint Cars feature race with a $25,000 payout to the winner, and a 40-lap Super DIRTcar Series feature race with a $10,000 prize going to the winner.
The Bristol dirt conversion took place from January thru March and was highlighted by track operations crews putting down more than 23,000 cubic yards of dirt to cover the famous concrete race surface. The dirt was spread via satellite technology with sophisticated graders and bulldozers to get it in just the right positions. The BMS dirt track features 19 degrees of banking in the turns and has a race surface that’s 50 feet wide.
To make the event as safe as possible for all attendees, BMS is instituting procedures to reduce contact and crowd density as guests and competitors purchase tickets, enter the grounds, enjoy the event and depart the facility. Face coverings will be a required accessory in high-traffic areas inside and outside the stadium for all guests who attend. The “Mask Up” campaign is part of an important initiative by Bristol Motor Speedway that strongly encourages the public to wear face coverings, not only when they are visiting the Speedway, but also when they are out in the surrounding communities as well, and to follow all of the necessary protocols and guidelines to do their part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Fans can purchase their tickets today for the Bristol Throwdown at www.bristolmotorspeedway.com. Reserved grandstand ticket prices are $30 Thursday; $40 each for Friday and Saturday; $80 three-day weekend. Kids (12 and under) tickets are $5 for each day and $10 for the 3-day combo ticket. VIP Parking is available in for $10 per day. Guests are encouraged to purchase their tickets by Wednesday, April 21, to take advantage of a $5 advance-purchase discount.