BMS, dragway pump millions into region

J. H. Osborne • Jul 9, 2008 at 12:00 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — There’s icing on the cake. About $14 million worth, just in the past few weeks.

Each year, attention- grabbing NASCAR and NHRA events at Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Dragway help pump more than $450 million directly into the region’s economy, according to economic impact figures calculated by the Bristol Tennessee/Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

But those are not the only events held at the Speedway and Dragway each year — so the influx of dollars doesn’t end there, according to more economic impact figures released Wednesday by BMS.

• Over a 24-day period, beginning with the AMA Dragbike Summer Nationals, which took place June 20-22, going through O’Reilly Auto Parts Junior Drag Racing League Eastern Conference Finals in Thunder Valley this week, the local economy will directly benefit to the tune of more than $4,589,581 million and $13,768,745 million indirectly.

• The two Junior Drag events alone will draw approximately 800 competitors over a 10-day time frame from nearly 30 states, including Wisconsin, Iowa and Connecticut, and international competitors from Canada, Ireland and Australia, resulting in $2,899,650 going directly into the local economy with an indirect impact of $8,698,950.

• The AMA Bike Summer Nationals, which took place for the first time at Bristol Dragway this year, drew nearly 400 racers from 25 states, including California and Montana, as well as Canada. The direct impact of that event on the local economy was $988,971, translating to an indirect impact of $2,966,915.

• The Saturday Spectacular, held last Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, drew in excess of 4,000 spectators, along with 50 competitors, impacted the local economy indirectly with $2,102,880 and directly with $700,960.

“We at Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway have known for some time the impact these events have on the region,” said Jeff Byrd, president and general manager of the facility. “I guess you could say it was a well-kept secret. Not only do these events stimulate the local and regional economy, they showcase the beauty of our area to folks from around the country and world. So in this time of uncertain conditions, which we are seeing in our industry as well, we wanted to try to make the region aware of what may be called ‘minor’ events compared to other things we do; but they are minor events with a major impact.”

Byrd said BMS officials just wanted to point out some positive news, considering the state of the economy.

“We have events taking place at the dragway on most weekends from April through September, and we’ve started utilizing the speedway throughout the summer with our Saturday Spectacular events that have become quite popular,” Byrd said. “We have fans and competitors coming in from all over the nation and quite a few from outside the country who love coming to Bristol. We truly appreciate them coming to support our events, and by doing so they’re supporting various businesses in the area which helps our local economy tremendously.”

The Chamber estimates the region (the area within a 100 mile radius) reaps a total indirect economic impact of more than $1.9 billion each year from all events at BMS and Bristol Dragway.

The August Cup race will mark the 53rd straight sellout for tickets at BMS, Byrd said, and BMS is a very proud to be one of very few tracks in NASCAR this year to sell out both events.

“It’s going to be tough to sustain,” Byrd said.

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