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Drag racing fans swarm to Thunder Valley

By Kyle Benjamin, kbenjamin@wcyb.com
Published On: Jun 14 2013 05:13:33 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 14 2013 04:31:53 PM CDT

If you hear a rumble in the Tri-Cities this weekend, there's a good chance you're near Thunder Valley.

BRISTOL, Tenn. -

If you hear a rumble in the Tri-Cities this weekend, there's a good chance you're near Thunder Valley.

The drag strip is earning its name again this weekend as the National Hot Rod Association takes over Bristol. We were at the track all day Friday taking in the spectacle that is the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

More than 300 cars and drivers taking on the twin thousand-foot lanes are here this weekend, and people from all over the country have driven in to see the action.

In between the mountains, it's unlike anything else you'll see at any other drag strip. On two ribbons of rubber-coated tarmac, cars that burn nitro methane hit 315 miles an hour in four seconds, sending shockwaves of sound that bounce off the mountains.

It's what brought Raymond and Deborah Geoffory to town. "We love drag racing," Deborah said. "Its about a 10-hour drive, and we will travel that far to see a drag race."

It's their third trip in four years. They say they're drawn by the speed and constant action. "You don't take two hours to find out who your winner is on each pass," Raymond said.

It's much different from the 500-lap Sprint Cup races that made Bristol famous at the next-door Bristol Motor Speedway.

It's a unique experience on all its own according to Bristol Dragway Director Brandon Cross. "After they get done running, you get out of our seats and go walk through the pits. You watch these guys rebuild the motor," he told us.

It's access average fans can't get at a NASCAR event, but comes with a ticket to this weekend. Fans can walk right up to a team's garage stall and watch them turn the wrenches and meet the drivers.

"At the end of the day, the drivers are absolutely fantastic about coming up and singing and being a part of the experience," said fan Larry Patton from Draper, Virginia. "That means a whole, whole lot."