Sunday, June 19 at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by the Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers, race fans have the rare chance to walk the length of Bristol Dragway, something no die-hard fan will want to miss, while honoring the memory of Jeff Byrd, former track President and General Manager.

Legendary NHRA competitor Kenny Bernstein, one of Byrd’s closest friends, and NHRA announcer Bob Frey will lead the walk down the famed Thunder Valley track. Former Nitro pilot Whit Bazemore, who received his break in to the sport from Byrd, also will be out front for the walk. 

While NHRA has hosted a “Track Walk with a Legend” prior to eliminations at each event this season, Bristol Dragway staff and NHRA officials wanted to add an extra element to honor Byrd. To make the walk even more special for fans, track staff and NHRA have extended invitations to all professional drivers to take part in the walk. 

“Jeff went out of his way to make sure he exceeded the expectations of every fan,” said Julie Bennett, Bristol Dragway Vice President, “but he always had a special love for those who followed drag racing. We wanted to do something special to honor him and we could think of no better way than letting the fans walk the track with some of his closest friends from NHRA.

“We have a few more special things planned to honor Jeff, but we’re going to keep those a secret until race weekend.”

NHRA President Tom Compton pointed to Byrd’s commitment to drag racing and said that his place in the sport is everlasting.

“Jeff was a devoted fan of drag racing and was loved by everyone in the community—from those who worked directly with him at NHRA to the extended racing community,” said   Compton. “The role he played working with us to bring a state-of-the-art drag racing facility to Bristol and the legacy that followed will always be remembered and appreciated.”

In addition to honoring the memory of Byrd and his love of drag racing, the track walk will give fans an up-close look at Thunder Valley prior to the beginning of eliminations. Fans will be able to gain a better understanding of what it takes to get an 8,000 horsepower machine hooked up for a run down the track.

The walk will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday and anyone with a ticket for the day’s action can participate for free. Pre-race ceremonies will immediately follow the walk.

Three-day combo and single-day event tickets are available.

Gates open at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 17 with the first round of Pro Qualifying slated for 5 p.m.  The pro cars will return at 7:30 p.m. for the exciting night qualifying round.

Gates open at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 18 with Pro Qualifying set for 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Bristol Dragway’s Fan Fest takes place 30 minutes following the conclusion of the final professional qualifying round.

Sunday’s action kicks off when gates open at 8:30 a.m. and Final Eliminations begin at 12:00 noon. Sunday tickets begin at only $20 thanks to special Father’s Day pricing.

Ticket prices are as follows: Friday -- Sections A - D $30 Adult / $10 Junior; Sections E - U $35 Adult / $10 Junior; Thunder Terrace $35 Adult / $10 Junior, Saturday -- Sections A - D $45 Adult / $15 Junior; Sections E - U $55 Adult / $25 Junior; Thunder Terrace $55 Adult / $25 Junior, Sunday -- Sections A- B $20 Adult / $10 Junior, Sections C - D $45 Adult / $15 Junior, Section E – P $55 Adult/ $25 Junior, Section Q – U $20 Adult/$10 Junior, Thunder Terrace $55 Adult / $25 Junior. Weekend combos are: Sections A - B $79 Adult / $30 Junior, Section C – D $95 Adult/$30 Junior, Sections E - P $120 Adult / $50 Junior, Sections Q – U $95 Adult/$30 Junior and Thunder Terrace $120 Adult / $50 Junior. Thunder Valley Club admission for three days is $300 for adults and $100 for juniors. Three-day Bruton’s Suite admission is $450 for both adults and juniors.

To purchase tickets, please call the Bristol ticket office at 423-BRISTOL or visit www.thundervalleytix.com.