Bristol Motor Speedway will reportedly host Virginia Tech and Tennessee in 2016. Photo: USA Today Sports
What is more southern or more awesome of an idea than Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee at a racetrack? Try making that racetrack the famed Bristol Motor Speedway.
Joe Schad of ESPN.com and Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com were reporting this is exactly what will happen in 2016.
You know, because playing college football at the home of Gaelic football, in the Bahamas or at Wrigley Field hasn't stretched the boundaries of the sport enough in recent years or in the near future?
Unlike some of the skepticism of playing in those venues, or the sheer disaster that was Illinois vs. Northwestern at Wrigley (remember another game where both teams had to use the same end zone, outside of your local park), this venue choice is pure genius.
It's the perfect size of a venue to house these two fan bases and Bristol's location makes it easy for fans of both teams to travel to the game. Seriously, the distance couldn't be more central for the fans if you tried.
Blacksburg, Virginia to Bristol is 131.6 miles, while Knoxville to Bristol is 109.2 miles away (according to Google Maps).
There are but a few select tracks that could house an event like this and make it more than just sticking a football field on the infield and hoping it works for a portion of the track to be used.
Bristol hasn't earned the nickname of the "Thunder Valley" around NASCAR circles for nothing. 165,000 spectators can fit into the stands around this short track legend of a venue and because Bristol Motor Speedway is just a half-mile venue putting a game on there will allow for all seats around the track to be used.
If it is done right most won't even know this game is taking place outside of a football stadium. It is a pure bowl-style venue and the noise should be just as loud, if not louder than anything Neyland Stadium could offer thanks to the additional 50,000 fans or so.
However, it got me to thinking about other racetracks that college football may look to use in the future.
Why not? Once something works, the college football world will do just about anything to copycat and make more money, right?
First track that came to mind was Martinsville (in Ridgeway, Virginia) and a perfect game could be Virginia vs. North Carolina in an ACC battle. It's just 2 hours, 45 minutes from Charlottesville, VA to the venue and 1 hour, 45 minutes from Chapel Hill.
Just like the Bristol track, Martinsville is a smaller venue in total size and the fan experience could be great.
Some suggested a venue like Charlotte Motor Speedway for North Carolina and South Carolina, but the pure size of the super-speedway would suck the life out of the game and ultimately it is all about getting the fan experience to be unique and fun.
There is nothing fun about having to sit in the first rows of a football game and having to use binoculars just to see the game and that's what you would have to do at a place like this. Unless, unless you were to do it at a place like Daytona, where the infield is legendary and you create a temporary stadium—then maybe it works?
In that case, I think South Carolina vs. Florida or even Florida vs. Florida State would be fun to see.
Outside of the south, one interesting venue would be Iowa Speedway, where we could see Iowa vs. Iowa State take place. It is a venue not quite set up as big as the super-speedway, but also not a short track venue as well.
Ultimately though, this venue and these teams are a perfect storm of awesomeness and for the sake of the sanity of the rest of us all, lets just hope this type of event doesn't become a regularity. Keep it a rare event and it will mean more.
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