The namesake has been around a while. A few million years… Give or take a month or two…
Or more…

Racing has been going on for slightly less time than that. In geological terms it’s a flash but in the terms of laps and wheels it’s quite a while.

My first time to Natural Bridge Speedway for the 2024 season had me cross paths with a couple of guys that have been around there since the beginning. These two, with some friends along, were in their spots in front of the main concession and control building on the front straight.

John Emore had a batch of fries and some history. He spoke about coming there for the first race when he was about 8 years old. That was 70 years ago in 1954. The track was longer then and extended beyond and around some trees that are still there. The faint, but grown in, exit of turn four is still just visible. John pointed it out as his friend, Harry Johnson, confirmed the spot. Harry used to turn racing laps there, back in the day. Now they support the track and the racing that is on now.

John Emore (left) 70 years of coming to races. Harry Johnson (right) a featured racer in the “good old days”

It’s Friday, June 14th. It’s the first night of a two night event featuring the American All Star Pro Late Model series. The main AAS event is set for the Saturday. Friday featured the regional Sportsman and Late Model with open practice for the AAS teams on site.

John Emore, Harry Johnson and the other fans were treated to a show Friday evening with a full field in the two mains. Practices, qualifying and heat races started the evening.

For the facility, improvements continue. A new Victory Lane is on the fan side of the exit of turn four. The grounds had a new grooming and the parking and “outside” pit areas have been expanded. The 2024 management has been pushing forward with organization, promotion and event progress for fans on site. The entire facility has a look of detail.

If pressed, we could nitpick at some details. The fan experience is, of course, the focus and continues to be the priority. For the teams and drivers, the infield could use a supply of paper towels in the restrooms… And maybe a hosing down before race weekend…? Let’s be real… A reliable set of restrooms is a must for teams that are there all day and into the evening.

Infield concessions…? Just curious…

Yes… Nitpicking. The overall experience at Natural Bridge Speedway continues to push forward from being close to collapse just a few years ago. The people that have stepped up over the past few seasons have pushed and pulled the facility forward and have given the fans, and the teams, a place to enjoy and compete with a good show. Just ask John and Harry… They’ll tell ya!

I was just there for the Friday. The expanded features of Saturday had plenty of buzz leading in and all indications point to another successful evening.

Day One – Bridge 57 Weekend – Friday, June 14, 2024
Sportsman Top Five: Bryce Viar, Michael Ayers, Bryce Smith, Matt Duggins, Norman Dudley Jr
Late Model Top Five: Justin Williams, Logan Roberson, Joe Leavell, Billy Beachler, Jesse Quick

PHOTOS from Friday, June 14, 2024