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Bristol Motor Speedway uses dirt from local campground to transform track

For the first time since 1970, the NASCAR Cup Series will race on dirt at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

BRISTOL, Tenn. — For the first time since 1970, the NASCAR Cup Series will race on dirt at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

Putting down the dirt on the high banks of Bristol was no easy task.

"There's a lot of nuances that a lot of the fans won't recognize from what we've done on the track," said Stephen Swift, Senior Vice President of Operations and Development.

The three-month conversion process began on Jan. 7 with a scattering of sawdust, and then they began putting down the dirt.

"We had to figure out how to keep dirt up, how to keep it on a slope like that, how to keep compaction, how to make sure we had the right dirt, and to make sure the dirt we're putting in is not a dusty dirt but has life and the things you need to hold moisture," he said.

Swift said they tested 20 sites to find the right kind of dirt and clay. They even sent it off to California for testing.

"Lucky enough, one of the last spots we tested happened to be from a campground that's literally right next to the speedway," he said.

The owner of that campground, Danny Gentry, was more than happy to help because he needed to get rid of some of the dirt on his property.

"You get more area to make it leveler and you get a wider space to park campers and cars," said Gentry.

Gentry had asked the city years ago to level out a large portion of his land, which was too steep to park cars and campers. Thanks to BMS, he said he has about 30 percent more space.

"It was a blessing because it was really close," said Swift. "So it was easy to get dirt in here quick and we actually helped a neighbor of ours to enhance their campground."

At the end of the weekend, the checkered flag will fall, and the dust will settle, but the 2021 Spring race will live on for Gentry's campground.

"Just come down and park on the dirt that helped to build Bristol," said Gentry.

This story was originally reported by WCYB.