The National Hot Rod Association’s traveling circus rolled into Bristol Dragway, in Bristol, Tennessee, last weekend. Big names, big money, and, as long as the weather held, big crowds. The setting, as always, was spectacular. Carved into the side of steep Appalachian hills, the drag strip gets its nickname--Thunder Valley--from the almost overwhelming sound that echos off the hillsides, when the nitromethane-fueled dragsters and Funny Cars rocket down the track (at over 300 miles per hour). Bristol has a long history, reaching back to the sport’s beginnings. All of the legends raced here, at one time or another, making it one of the drag racing’s iconic tracks. I was there to cover the race for East Coast Drag News. Here are some of my out-takes from the weekend. (Click on the photos to see larger versions.)
Ashley Force Hood, in her Funny Car, performs a burnout on Friday night, just before a pass that put her in the number one qualifying position.
Tony Pedregon drives his Funny Car down the track, during a qualifying on Saturday.
Al-Anabi Racing teammates Burton Auxier, right, and Mike Castellana, left, perform side-by-side burnouts before qualifying runs on Friday.
This would be a fine photo of side-by-side burnouts by Antron Brown, front, and Spencer Massey, rear, except that, in this photo, they’re smoking the tires--not a good thing--during qualifying runs on Saturday.
Greg Anderson, seen here in a qualifying run on Saturday, was the runner-up in Pro Stock.
Erica Enders didn’t qualify for the race, but she’s sure got a great looking car.
Pro Stock drivers Jason Line, front, and Jeg Coughlin, rear, head down track, during qualifying on Saturday.
The good folks from Geico kept the crowd entertained during the inevitable down-times for track clean-up and prep by shooting t-shirts into the crowd.
And finally, a photo from the Sportsman classes.
Don’t laugh. That’s Bill Howell and he’s a damn good racer. He qualified third (out of 38). That minivan is quick, too. It runs the quarter mile in the low 14's.