NRA Night Race

A Brief History Of The Bass Shops NRA Night Race

Author: Yash

The NRA Night Race is a time-honored event with roots dating back to the late 1960s. It stands as one of the oldest, continuously running races in the country. The race is also one of the biggest events on the NASCAR circuit. Following its launch in 1961, the 2022 NRA Night Race will mark its 61st year at Bristol Motor Speedway. During this time, it has grown into one of the most prestigious races on the Camping World Truck Series schedule. NASCAR's Round of 16 playoff race is currently the last in the series. This article takes a look back at some of the historical moments that have led to where we are now and what’s coming next for this fast-growing and highly anticipated event.


1. The Early Days


Bristol Motor Speedway was built in 1961, making it one of the youngest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Originally designed as a road course for car and motorcycle racing, it wasn’t until 1964 that the facility was modified for use as a stock car track. This was done in preparation for the inaugural World 600, which took place in September of that year. That first race saw an estimated crowd of 39,000 in attendance and was won by Rex White. However, the track was not fully completed at the time of the race, meaning the drivers had to contend with turns that were banked at less than the intended 30 degrees. Since then, Bristol has played host to a variety of events. These have included the NASCAR Trucks, Xfinity, NHRA drag racing, Monster Jam, and an assortment of other events. The track is also renowned for its notoriously tricky racing conditions due to its shape and design. In fact, the track has been described as being “about as nice to race on as a concrete parking lot.” It has also been called “the wildest, most unpredictable, difficult and dangerous track in NASCAR.”


2. Why is it called the NRA Night Race?


As with many events, we may never know the exact origin of the name of the NRA Night Race. That said, we do know that the first-ever race at Bristol was sponsored by the NRA. In fact, the event is the longest-running event sponsored by the NRA that is still in existence today. The event was initially called the World 500, but when the NRA came on board in 1954, it was rebranded as the NRA 500. It then became known as the NRA 500 National Stock Car Race in 1960 and, finally, the NRA Night National Championship Stock Car Race in 1961. Since the original event, the NRA sponsorship has come to encompass the entire NASCAR short track season, including the Bristol Short Track Nationals, the Summer Shootout, and the Fall Brawl.


3. The Return of the NRA Night Race


The last NRA Night Race was held in 2021. It was the first time this particular event had been staged since 2002. The return of this event was largely due to the efforts of two Bristol-based individuals. These were Speedway communications manager Clay Campbell and former track president and general manager Jerry Caldwell. Campbell and Caldwell were keen to bring the event back, and they began lobbying for it within the track's management team shortly after they were hired. In fact, they went as far as to suggest that the name of the event be changed to the NRA 500 again. This was rejected, but they did manage to persuade the track management to host the event again and brand it as the NRA Night Race.


4. Recent Changes


Beyond the return of the event itself, there have also been some minor changes to the date and format of the event. The date was moved from August to the first weekend of September. This was done to better align the event with the rest of the NRA Night Race Championship Series, which is a 10-race playoff that concludes in October. Additionally, the race was shortened to 500 miles from its original distance of 600. The reason for this was due to the fact that there were a limited number of NASCAR Short Track Division races during the course of the year. As such, the race would have been the final event of the season, which is not ideal. These changes may have seemed minor, but they helped to make the event more relevant once again, after such a long absence.


5. 2022 NASCAR Key Events


The NASCAR Short Track Division calendar is made up of 10 events, including the NRA Night Race. This event will take place at the end of each year, during the week after Labor Day. The format of the event will be the same as the majority of the other races on the calendar, with drivers racing for 100 miles. During the course of the regular season, the drivers will accumulate points based on where they place in each race. The top 10 drivers will then advance to the playoffs, which will conclude with the championship race. The NRA Night Race is considered one of the most prestigious events on the circuit. This is due to its long history, as well as its location at one of the most iconic tracks in NASCAR. It’s also one of the biggest races of the year and one that fans should keep an eye out for.

It is going to be a different Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway than in the past. In the Chase for the Cup playoffs, the late-summer Bristol race is now part of the regular season schedule rather than the regular season.  Advancing into the second round of the NASCAR playoffs is dependent on the results of this race. This is the third race of the Chase.  It is sufficient to win or to finish below the top 12 cut line in the championship points to advance.  This 500-lap battle will be even more intense because of that added urgency to advance. 



The NRA Night Race has a long and storied history. It has played host to some of the biggest names in motorsport and has been part of NASCAR since the very beginning. The event has changed over the years, but it has always remained a highly anticipated race at the end of the season. And while it has been away, it has certainly been missed. This year, fans will be able to experience the excitement of the NRA Night Race once again. The green flag drops on Saturday, September 17, at 7:30 p.m. The event will once again be held at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. As always, the race is expected to draw tens of thousands of fans who come to enjoy the thrill of NASCAR racing and the fall colors of the surrounding mountains. It makes for one final event to close out the season and one not to be missed.

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