The King, Richard Petty (shown above top), the driver who won NASCAR’s sport’s last dirt race at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, isn’t exactly pleased with this weekend’s event. Tons of pounds of dirt have been trucked into Bristol Motor Speedway and dumped onto the normal asphalt track to give NASCAR its first dirt race in five decades. But to Petty, that’s a bad idea.
“I have to be careful here,” Petty told Autoweek back in October, “because there’s some politics involved, and I don’t want to annihilate NASCAR on this. I guess I’m looking at it from an old-time deal because we spent years and years and years trying to become a professional sport. Years and years to get away from that stigma.
“But dirt-track racing is not professional, so we’re going backward. It would be like taking a professional football team and going back to play at a high school field.”
“I think it’ll be exciting at Bristol that day. It might be another gimmick. It might be what NASCAR needs to keep our base growing. But it won’t be anything like the dirt track we had at Raleigh. In that one, there were big holes in the track, and it was rough, and you had to drive around those holes.
“The dirt tracks today turn into asphalt tracks; once you race on ‘em a while they just turn into slick asphalt tracks. But cars will be going sideways in the corners, and that’s what people want to see.”