The Original Thunder Valley by ProQuest


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									       The original Bristol Dragway, which
      featured a layout quite similar to the
current Bristol facility, was considered to
   be way ahead of its time when it hosted
     the inaugural NHRA Springnationals in
     1965. The facility had state-of-the-art
  grandstands, 70-foot-wide track, lengthy
    shutdown area, and other innovations,
including the sport’s first five-story, multi-
                  suite starting-line tower.

        ecades before Bruton Smith bought Bristol Dragway and spent $18 million to upgrade the raceway and before the track hosted the NHRA Showdown event in
        1999 and the inaugural NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in 2001, the historic facility was the host of the first NHRA Springnationals event, beginning in 1965, the
        year the track opened, through 1967. The race addition to the NHRA national event schedule was a landmark event because it not only allowed drag racing’s
premier sanctioning body to penetrate the market that had been exclusively dominated by oval track stock car racing, but it also marked the emergence of what many
regarded as the sport’s first “supertrack.” Those first three Springnationals races in Bristol were instrumental in changing the perception of drag racing from being
looked upon as a West Coast-based gathering of casual hot rodders to a national sport with highly skilled professionals as its primary participants. The beautiful Bristol
Dragway showed how far drag racing had come from its origins at abandoned airports in the early 1950s.

                                                                                                                                        After winning Comp in 1966 with
                                                                                                                                        his Mustang Funny Car in the
                                                                                                                                        A/Experimental Stock category
                                                                                                                                        (A/XS), Tommy Grove, far lane,
                                                                                                                                        returned to Bristol in 1967 to
                                                                                                                                        conquer one of the first official
                                                                                                                                        Funny Car fields ever presented at
                                                                                                                                        a major NHRA national e
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