1st Time @ Bowman Gray

I’ve been wanting to for years, this weekend I finally saw a race at Bowman Gray Stadium.

BGS is located inside the city limits of Winston Salem, NC. On Friday, my wife and I were walking downtown looking for a nice place to eat dinner, we could hear the race cars qualifying for Saturday’s night race, pretty cool! On Saturday, we arrived at the track at 6:30 (the races begin at 8) and the parking lot is already packed. BGS is located either next or on the campus of Winston Salem State University. It may be interesting to note that this is an historically African-American college. We decided to do a little tailgating, when I asked an Afican-American gentlemen, who was walking past with his seat cushion, if we should actually be worried about getting a seat. The gentlemen laughed and said “I have someone saving me a seat!” I don’t think I ever had to worry about actually getting a seat at a short track race before!

Only 10 dollars per person to get in and if we would have known, the race sponsor had 2 dollar off tickets to download on their website.
Once we got in, there were seats available as it was 75 percent full. Of course, it was 75 percent full with 1 hour until racetime. BGS is a U-shaped stadium with a giant fieldhouse at one end. There is a football field in the center but the lines and end zone areas were not yet painted. Plenty of concessions and rest rooms. The rest rooms were maintained but nothing glamorous. Aluminum benches to sit on, we decided to sit in the “end zone” between turns 1 and 2. The seats are right next to the racetrack with only a well used up Armco barrier to separate. Oh yea, by 8, the stands were completely full, someone told me 20,000.

If you ever sat in high school class, daydreaming if it were possible to race stock cars on the running track? The answer is YES! I’d say the track is actually about 10 feet wider than the official running track.
The night started with the Sportsman division, which appear to be late model stocks. Judging by the condition of most of the cars, I would suspect that the local 5 Star Body dealer does very well! The action was fast and furious with a fair amount of passing and a large amount of bumping, pushing and paybacks.
The Modifieds were next up with a 199 lapper. I was a little disappointed that a lot of the BGS regulars, made famous by the TV show “Madhouse”, were not racing. Seems it was a Nascar Tour race and those cars have slight rule differences from the weekly BGS mods. 17 mods started. Only Nascar could screw up a good thing when it comes to weekly racing! Nonetheless, pretty exciting race. LW Miller, who came from PA, passed Burt Myers in the waning laps. The crowd was completely into the race as thunderous roars of approval greeted anything, good or bad, that happened the either Jason or Burt Myers.
The final 2 races were the Street Stocks (which were all 6 cylinder cars) and the Stadium Stocks (which were mini-stocks). Both races were equally exciting with tons of action and bent tempers.

I you ever watched the show “Madhouse”, it is a 100 percent accurate portrayal of anything and everything that happens at Bowman Gray Stadium!
My wife and I left saying to each other that we would rather go back to Bowman Gray than spend our money on future Sprint Cup races.

Thanks for reading!

Kevin Shaw

Glad you had a good trip. I am kicking myself for not getting there this year. I was supposed to take a road trip to that track this year, but real life took over and I have not had the time. BGS certainly sounds like a refreshing change from here…and a worthy goal for Florida racing to aspire to!

My step-son went 2 weeks ago, and was just as (if not more than) impressed as Kevin is. We are shooting for opening day of the 2011 season.

On a side note:
If you enjoy partaking in fermented grapes, Childress Vineyards (Richard Childress) as well as other wineries and vineyards are about a 20 minute drive from downtown Winston Salem. All were well worth the visit.
Richard Childress Racing shops are located 1 exit from the vineyards. The public can enter and view the racing fleet from a 2nd story catwalk. I counted 28 race cars, most in completed form.