There hasn’t been a dirt race in the NASCAR Cup Series in 50 years; so when it was announced that The March race at Bristol Motor Speedway would be run on the dirt, it is no surprise that all of NASCAR has been very excited.

That excitement has only grown as preparations for the track continued.

Those preparations began back in January to turn the .533 concrete track to a dirt surface suitable for racing.

In order to make that happen, NASCAR needed over 23,000 cubic yards of dirt – the equivalent to seven Olympic pools full or 149,851 kegs of beer.

But where did all of that dirt come from???

After Speedway Motorsports senior vice president of operations and development Steve Swift and his team tested numerus forms of dirt, even sending them to geotechnical engineers in California for testing.  As it turned out, the proper dirt was right in the area – red clay found in northeast Tennessee, not too far from Bristol Motor Speedway.

Three different types of dirt were selected for the track surface – dirt used from when there was a dirt track at Bristol 20 years ago, dirt from Bluff City only 10 minutes away, and dirt from the top of a his at Gentry Campground. 

Then the big construction equipment moved in – the Excavators, Pans, Bulldozers and Dump trucks.  Swift compared the events to a little boy’s toy box but on a much bigger scale.

Construction began on January 11, 2021 and was completed and ready for cars on February 25; however, everything was completed in only 14 days due to weather conditions.  Lights at Bristol Motor Speedway helped in the completion of the project in such a short time; enabling crews to work around the clock.  Using eight to 12 trucks a day, crews moved from 120 to 180 truckloads per day.

The dirt building process included…
around two inches of saw dust covered the concrete track surface
then came the old dirt track dirt was used as the base for the track
next came the dirt found on the hill at the Campgrounds which was then topped with lime
Finally the red clay from Bluff City was laid down to be used as the racing surface itself.

Crews used GPS – Global Satellite Positioning equipment to help in placing the dirt in its proper locations.  With nine to 10 feet of dirt in the turns, the banking on the track was dropped from 28 degrees to 19 degrees and the track itself is now 50 feet wide.


Where does all the dirt go once the races are over???

After the race is over, Bristol must once again return to a concrete surface.  But what do you do with 23,000 cubic yards of dirt?

The undirting process of Bristol will be much easier than that of laying it all down.  There is no need to worry about how the dirt will be removed, only removing it.

Bristol plans on keeping the stash of dirt nearby and with the help of the engineers, the proper chemicals can be used to replenish the nutrients in the dirt.

The hard part will be retrieving all the dirt that that has been slung all over Thunder Valley after 140 dirt track cars and dozens of trucks and 3,400 pound stock cars have raced on the surface.

Executive vice president and general manger for Bristol Jerry Caldwell noted that the last time a dirt race was run at Bristol they had to pressure wash the speedway four times; saying, “we’ve got some pressure washers lined up ready to go”.  Officials believe it will take about a month to get the Speedway cleaned.