Bristol Dragway’s 2012 season has come to an end with one of its most exciting seasons ever. From Bristol’s flagship event, the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, to its season-long Taco Bell Street Fights and DER Bracket Racing Series, there truly was an event for everyone in Bristol this year.

Street Fights featured a couple of changes in 2012, including a new name thanks to series sponsor Taco Bell. The season kicked off with one of the largest Street Fights events ever thanks in part to Taco Bell’s promotion which allowed anyone with a Taco Bell receipt to race for FREE in the season opener. That promotion was so popular that Taco Bell repeated it again later in the season.

Another change involved a championship format added to Power Hour. Drivers chased points all season in hopes of being the inaugural champion. Following a tough battle, Willard Kinzer won the car division, while Jim Cook streaked away to claim the motorcycle division.

In April, Thunder Valley fans were treated to their first taste of the American Drag Racing League. After a thrilling weekend, Jason Scruggs walked away with the Pro Extreme title, while former NHRA Pro Stock competitor Rickie Jones claimed the Pro Nitrous victory.

In May, Peter Biondo and Kyle Seipel returned with their K&N Spring Fling 20’s, which offered a $20,000 winner’s purse each day. Denver Maltba, a Bristol Dragway regular, came away with a $20,000 paycheck after Sunday’s eliminations. Bob Maclosky (Saturday) and Marty Dabney (Sunday) also earned big paydays.

The Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Father’s Day weekend was as exciting as ever, including an unbelievable 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, who hails from nearby Greeneville. 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. 

“I think we’d rather shake the tires, hit the wall, anything other than lose like that,” a dejected Johnson said after the final round. “Hats off to the crew, the engines, my team, he just beat us in the final round.”

“That is Pro Stock racing at its best. Someone told me it was the closest finish ever or something. We’ll be in the history books one way or the other. I really wanted to give that win to my dad for Father’s Day. We’ll come back next year and try again.”

While disappointed, Johnson said there are days when racing luck is not with a driver, and for him, this was one of those days. 

“It just wasn’t our day,” he explained. “Sometimes they get red lights against you and you have the slowest car in the field… Sometimes it just isn’t your day.”

While Johnson wasn’t happy with his outcome of the event, fans had plenty to cheer for during the weekend.  Bristol Dragway held the annual Fan Fest autograph session on Saturday night which featured more than 25 drivers. Several people said it was the largest NHRA autograph session in recent memory. Then, to honor Father’s Day, Bristol officials continued the popular promotion which features tickets for Sunday’s final eliminations beginning at just $20. To add to the excitement for families on the special day, Bristol provided two free junior tickets for each adult ticket purchased by Thursday before race weekend. The ticket pricing and junior ticket offers continue for 2013.  

The year definitely didn’t end there though. In June, Fun Ford Weekend returned to Thunder Valley in a great event for fans of the Blue Oval. Fun Ford was followed by the sixth running of the World Footbrake Challenge in July. It was a good event for Bristol Dragway regulars, as Steve Foley and Tim Griffith came home with $10,000 each for winning Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

July closed with a busy week of Junior Dragster competition as Bristol Dragway hosted the Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern Conference Finals and the Huddleston Performance Jr. Dragster Nationals. Based on the turnout, the future of drag racing is alive and well and one of Bristol’s own racers, Carson Brown, won the 11-year-old division.

On the same day as the Eastern Conference Finals, Bristol Dragway hosted the annual Monster Truck Madness with the one-and-only Bigfoot in attendance. The “Original Monster Truck” caused plenty of carnage in the infield of Bristol Motor Speedway before the event was over.  A full field of trucks, the majority of which participate in Monster Jam, put on a show that left the fans clamoring for more.

August featured the All Harley Drag Racing Association Thunder in the Valley Nationals, an event that continues to draw die-hard fans from across the region. Nothing compares to the sound of Harley-Davidson’s rumbling through Thunder Valley. Then, on Labor Day weekend, the supporters of Mopar products came to Bristol for our annual Mopar Thunder.

Super Chevy Show and Thunder Valley Mayhem took place in September and, once again, it was one of the biggest Super Chevy Shows on the tour. For fans of the Bowtie, the Bristol event is a must-attend affair. With one of the largest car shows and swap meets on the tour, there is something for every fan of classic and modern Chevys. Add a huge car corral with several cars for sale, and several people walked away with their own new classic to enter in the 2013 show. Thunder Valley Mayhem featured an all-star cast of extreme entertainment including Pro Mods, jet dragsters, Larry “Spiderman” McBride and Megasaurus. 

Bristol Dragway congratulates the 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.

Thanks to all the fans and spectators who made 2012 an amazing season. Check back here, as the 2013 schedule will be posted as soon as it is available.