It’s late August here in Bristol and the whole area is jumping as the Stars of America’s favorite racing series rolls into the Thunder Valley.

Thousand of campers assemble in makeshift campgrounds surrounding the racetrack.

Some arrived as early as last week, including John Wilson of Crossville, who arrived Saturday in anticipation of the big race week.

By mid-week he will be surrounded by fellow campers from Crossville and other parts of the country, who gather at the same campsites every year at Bill Gaines’ Bristol Campground.

For diehard racers, the action started Tuesday night in nearby Bulls Gap where Clint Bowyer, driver of the Richard Childress #07 Nextel Cup car, who jumped into a dirt Super Late Model in a charity race to benefit The Crumley House/Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center in Limestone, TN.

Bowyer headed a field of Team RCR drivers including Austin Dillon (teenage grandson of Childress), Dale McDowell and Tim McCreadie who will be competing in the 30-lap, $5,000-to-win ... $1,000-to-start Super Late Model feature.

Race fans will be in Bristol today for the "Doubleheader Day" — NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series O'Reilly 200 and USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series Food City 150.

Food City Family Night will be Thursday on State Street, Downtown Bristol, 1-9 p.m. with sponsor displays, race show cars and driver autograph sessions. Early in the day, the Nextel cup team haulers assemble at the Bristol Mall giving fans plenty of photo opportunities.

At 9 p.m. the haulers begin the Blue Lizard NASCAR Transporter Parade from the mall to the Speedway infield. Fans will line the five miles of Volunteer Parkway to salute the teams and get tons of pictures.

In Bulls Gap Thursday night will be the Scorcher 100, a 50-lap Super Late Model race.

On Friday, the stands will fill for the qualifying of the Sharpie 500, followed by the Food City 250 NASCAR Busch Series race. This will be a big night for the Busch series as the field will be overloaded with Cup drivers doing double duty.

Finally Saturday night will be the NASCAR Nextel Cup, Sharpie 500, the most popular race on the schedule for both fans and drivers. Five hundred laps of beating and banging Bristol style, as over 160,000 fans fill the grandstands to capacity.

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