NASCAR: Bristol spring weekend shifting to April

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The first of NASCAR’s two annual visits to the Bristol Motor Speedway has been moved back a month.

BMS announced today that its spring NASCAR weekend, which features the Food City 500 for the Sprint Cup Series and a 300-mile Nationwide Series undercard, will go off on April 17-19, 2015.

“This is a great day in the history of Bristol Motor Speedway thanks to our passionate fans,” said Jerry Caldwell, BMS general manager and executive vice president, in a statement.

“[Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO and president] Bruton and Marcus Smith and NASCAR heard the relentless plea for a true spring race date. The fans can look forward to a 2015 landmark celebration April 17-19 in Thunder Valley.”

The Food City 500 has been held in March since the 2005 season, but weather conditions for the race have varied considerably.

This past March, Carl Edwards won after rain delayed the start for two hours and then delayed it again in mid-race for an additional three hours and change – causing it to end under the lights.

NASCAR.com notes that a spring date change for Bristol has been under consideration for some time, citing a Bristol (Tenn.) Herald Courier interview from last year in which Caldwell said that such a move would be “a game-changer for all of us.”

“I just remind [NASCAR officials] what we’re dealing with and what the race fans need,” added Caldwell in the interview.

Now, Caldwell and BMS have gotten their wish.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals

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In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.