NASCAR Cup Series Races on Dirt for the First Time in 51 Years

Written By Colton DeBiase, Columnist

The NASCAR Cup Series went back to its roots on Monday afternoon with racing on dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was the Cup Series’ first dirt race since 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. NASCAR legend Richard Petty won the race. It was an experiment for NASCAR as they attempt to create new exciting ways to draw more fans into the sport. It was a successful weekend even though the race got moved to Monday due to rain. It was initially scheduled for Sunday.  

NASCAR is a sport that takes pride in its history that started on local dirt tracks in the South in the late 1940s. As the decades went by, it turned into a national phenomenon, with crowds reaching over 100,000 people for races in the mid-’90s and early 2000s. After some leveling off in attendance over this past decade, NASCAR has been thinking of ways to bring fans into the sport by adding more road courses to the schedule this year, bringing the race to Nashville Superspeedway, a track they’ve never been to before, and running on the dirt at Bristol. 

Despite the rain halting all events to Monday, it was an excellent week for NASCAR to return to its roots. NASCAR was not afraid to try something new. With the declining decade they had in the 2010s, NASCAR needed to take risks to gain fans back. The Bristol dirt race was no exception. At the start of the green flag, it was well-received by fans with dirt in the air and getting the feel NASCAR was going old school with the cars racing differently compared to the asphalt. The big difference was the cars slid more, something fans are not used to on the asphalt. 

It was announced during the race Bristol will return to the dirt for their Spring Race in 2022. The crowd went into a roar of excitement when the announcement was made. Overall, it was a great weekend for NASCAR who is climbing the ladder as they attempt to gain new fans all across the country.  

What will be curious to see for next year is if fans will show up if Bristol can operate at full capacity. There was a socially distant crowd due to the pandemic and people who were originally planning to see the race on Sunday may have had to head home. So, you could not get to see what the crowd would have been under normal circumstances. If the race is back with a significantly better capacity than in recent years, then NASCAR will have something brewing to gain fans and fill up even more tracks around the United States.