"Inside Thunder Valley"
Thunder Valley. What an awesome name for a drag-strip positioned right in the middle of two mountains. So many things come to mind that make this place so special and unique: its history, beautiful landscape, its character, great customer service that makes it a fan and racer favorite. I could go on and on.
In this blog I want to highlight one of the most important assets that has made and kept Bristol what it is today; our Bristol Dragway staff. Our teams is comprised of the ticket staff, tech crew, staging lane crew, starters, E.T. booth, water box, front and back computer (timing system), announcers, security, emergency staff, and fuel station combine to make up more than 200 years of experience. This core staff has seen Thunder Valley go through many changes and renovations but it consistently has been the foundation of Bristol Dragway.
As many of you know, a normal drag racing day is unlike any other sporting event. You open early and usually start racing before any spectators arrive just so you can complete the day before a city-mandated curfew. Then you do this over and over again for about 75 event days. We rotate our staff around to give them breaks because in drag racing there aren’t any breaks. Most are working outside dealing with the weather conditions, questions from competitors and spectators, and trying to run the race. With all that said, our crew loves what it does and is good at it. Dealing with many challenges, they provide the highest level of professionalism and offer the industry’s best customer service along with years of experience.
It’s hard to put in words how much our staff means to us and how much it has done for Bristol Dragway. So, I have asked a few others to help share their thoughts on our weekend warriors.
"As a whole, the Bristol Staff has that unique combination of efficiency, professionalism and friendliness that is hard to come by. They are the #1 reason we were able to get 5000+ runs down the track at our 2012 Spring Fling event. Not only do they get it done, they get it done with a smile on their faces. I can’t thank them enough.” – Peter Biondo, Spring Fling 20’s Bracket Race Owner/Promoter
"The World Footbrake Challenge has been held at Bristol Dragway all of its six-year history. There is no doubt in my mind the success of the event is tied directly to the Bristol Dragway staff. From top to bottom, it is obvious their # 1 goal is to make the customer happy. As an event promoter, it is very refreshing to have assurance that the Bristol Dragway staff will treat your customer as well or better than you can treat them yourself. On top of the great customer service they offer, the employees at Bristol Dragway do their job at the highest level possible. Every member of the team understands their role very well and they perform at maximum efficiency. With service and support like we have gotten from the Bristol Dragway staff, there will never be another venue option for the WFC." – Jared Pennington, World Footbrake Challenge Owner/Promoter
100% True. THANK YOU Bristol Dragway staff.
Without further delay, here is a list of the workers that are the heartbeat of Thunder Valley.
- Jean Silcox
- Christy Greer
- Tammy Moore
- Curt Smith
- Sally Smith
- Derek Smith
- Richard Keesling
- Aaron Williams
- Mike Belcher
- Kenny Morrell
- Mathew Brewer
- Ronnie Brewer
- Amy Watson
- Bob Burton
- Mike Hicks
- Johnny Hutchinson
- Pat Quinn
- Mike Lester
- David McGee
- Reece Wheeler
- Craig Stapleton
- Jeffery Stillwell
- Alan Howard
- David Carrier
- Freddie Wilkenson
- And many other members from the Tri-Cities area Emergency Services
- Keith Elton
- Bruce Bullis
- Andy Seabolt
- And the rest of Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department
Looks a little different around here, doesn’t it? We decided we’d spruce the place up a bit for you. We wanted to make it easier for you to find all the information you need for all of our events here in Thunder Valley.
A new website…what a great way to wrap up an amazing season! But I’ll get to that in a minute.
First off, we hope you like the new Bristol Dragway site. As always, our contact information is listed here and we encourage you to provide your feedback on what you find. This page has been constructed for you, and we want it to give you everything you need to keep you up-to-date with what is going on in Bristol.
In this blog, you will see interesting contributions from many of the people who help make all the action in Thunder Valley possible. Through the bulk of the season, I’ll use this space to give you a preview of the exciting racing ahead and a recap of everything that has happened. But, I don’t want you to get tired of hearing me rattle on ALL the time! We’ll also have some of our other team members take you behind the scenes from time to time to give you a feel for what it takes to pull off the greatest drag racing on the planet.
Now, like I said up there in the first paragraph, this has been an awesome season in Thunder Valley. We couldn’t do it without the great racers, fans, officials and staff who come together each weekend at Bristol Dragway to create all the magic.
The season began on the last day of March with one of our largest Street Fights events ever. Thanks to Taco Bell (our new SF sponsor), anyone who paid with a Taco Bell receipt (yes…you read that right), could race for FREE in the season opener. How cool is that? What’s even better is that Taco Bell repeated the promotion again later in the season. Taco Bell is a great partner that really understands the importance of Street Fights (which I plan to further explain in a future blog). There is one more event scheduled for October 6 and we want to see you at the track. Minivans ARE welcome.
At Street Fights this season, we dropped money off the tower for fans to catch. We put jewelry in a swimming pool filled with sand and let a few of our female fans dig for it. We had burnout competitions and introduced our MPH Clubs. Heck, one night Taco Bell packed a Ford Fiesta with bags of Doritos and then gave away Doritos Locos Tacos free all evening long.
The Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Father’s Day weekend was as exciting as usual…especially a great final round between Mike Edwards and Allen Johnson in Pro Stock. At the end of the track, they finished in a virtual tie, with Edwards given a .0000 winning margin over Johnson, our hometown competitor. I don’t think it gets any closer than that. Tony Schumacher won Top Fuel to return to the Winner’s Circle for the first time in 32 events and Ron Capps earned an emotional Funny Car win in his sixth-straight final round of 2012.
There was a lot of fun off the track, too. We held our annual Fan Fest autograph session on Saturday night and had more than 25 drivers take part. We were told by several people that it was the largest NHRA autograph session they could remember. Then, to honor Father’s Day, tickets for Sunday’s final eliminations began at just $20. You just can’t beat that deal. Oh wait, yeah we did. To help families celebrate the special day, we gave two free junior tickets for each adult ticket purchased by Thursday before race weekend. That is unbelievable and I’m sure we added a few fans to the Nitro Generation. Want to know the best part? We’re doing it again for 2013.
In late July, we had our annual Monster Truck Madness with the one-and-only Bigfoot in attendance. The “Original Monster Truck” caused plenty of carnage before the event was over. We had a huge crowd and continue to be impressed with the love you fans show the monster trucks.
We just completed Super Chevy Show and Thunder Valley Mayhem a couple of weeks ago. Once again, it was one of the biggest Super Chevy Shows on the tour. If you are a fan of the Bowtie, you can’t miss the event in Bristol. We have one of the largest car shows and swap meets you’re going to see anywhere. We even had a huge car corral with a ton of cars for sale. I bet someone reading this picked up their own classic to enter in next year’s car show!
Thunder Valley Mayhem definitely did not disappoint with Pro Mods, jet dragsters, Larry “Spiderman” McBride and Megasaurus. I got some great photos from the event and may include those in a future blog with some of my favorites from the season.
The year definitely didn’t end there though. In June, we had the Fun Ford Weekend return to Thunder Valley in a great event for fans of the Blue Oval. On Labor Day weekend, the die-hard supporters of Mopar products came to Bristol for our annual Mopar Thunder. In July, we had a week of Junior Dragster competition as we hosted the Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern Conference Finals. It is great to see the future of drag racing is alive and well. One of our own racers, Carson Brown, won the 11-year-old division. We’re proud of you bud!
Congratulations also are in order for our DER Bracket Series champs for 2012. Tim Griffith and Dylan Kiser wrapped up back-to-back season championships in the DER Bracket Racing Series. Griffith earned the Pro category championship for the second year in-a-row, with Kiser claiming the Junior Dragster Division II title once more. Trevor Denton (Super Pro), John Isom (Sportsman), Jerry Turner (Motorcycle), Bill Roberts (Trophy) and Garrett Freeman (Jr. Dragster Div. I) also earned 2012 championships in Thunder Valley.
Well, I’ve hit the 1000 word mark. I tend to ramble as you’ll see in the coming months. Thanks for hanging in there this long. We had a lot happen this season and it was all worth repeating. Once again, we hope you enjoy the new website and ask that you will give us your feedback.
I’ll also be looking for ideas for upcoming blogs, so if you have one, shoot me an email and let me know what you would like to see.