New book reflects back on Bristol Motor Speedway history prior to Bruton Smith’s purchase and expansion


If you’re a fan of NASCAR history, particularly Bristol Motor Speedway, you may want to be on the lookout for a copy of a new book written by former BMS general manager Ron Scalf.

“Bristol Motor Speedway, Racin’ The Way It Was” is the title, with the subtitle of “My 10 Years at the World’s Fastest Half Mile NASCAR Track.” The new tome chronicles Scalf’s 10 years at the high-banked half-mile in the late 1980s through the mid 1990s.

Scalf’s book — its publisher and release date are unclear at this point — focuses heavily on his mentor, former BMS owner Larry Carrier, who died in 2005.

“I really didn’t feel like he ever got the opportunity to tell his story,” Scalf said of Carrier to the Johnson City (Tenn.) Press. “I’ve spent the last 18 months or so trying to tell the story.

“It’s not so much about racing because everybody knows the history of Bristol Motor Speedway. It’s more behind the scenes and information that race fans would never get.”

Scalf also expounds on Bruton Smith’s purchase of BMS in 1996 and the eventual capital improvement plan that more than doubled the short track’s seating capacity to 160,000.

“There are few people who could have done what Bruton Smith has done or (late BMS GM) Jeff Byrd, who took over my position,” Scalf said. “There is a chapter in the book where I went to Larry (Carrier) and said, ‘Hey, we need nine million more dollars for seats and infrastructure. I was really concerned we were going to lose the April date.”

After his tenure at BMS, Scalf moved into promoting boxing, serving as president of the World Boxing Federation.

But he’ll always have a soft spot for the East Tennessee bullring, especially with the way it changed since he ran the legendary track.

“If you look where Bristol was and where the other tracks in the sport were, it’s a 180-degree turnaround,” Scalf told the Press. “Some of the things now I agree with and others I don’t, but it’s unbelievable what they’ve done with Bristol.”

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Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports