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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