To start… We’re not completely familiar with all that was, or is, going on at Natural Bridge Speedway. For that matter, we’re also not completely familiar with “dirt track” racing. It is a different animal. It is, in general, a slightly feral version of racing. The skill set is different. The cars are either completely different or, under the skin, built a bit different. They drive loose. They drive sideways. They drive a little wild.

This time last year (2022), Natural Bridge was… ? Well, our understanding was that the track was having some issues. Promotion and follow through on race day was getting a bit casual. Some of the basics of the facility had fallen to the back burner. There were ramblings of complaints from car counts to payouts to officials and general confusion. Fans were hit or miss and getting more missing as social media, fact or fiction, set the scale.

Then July happened. Someone made a bold and brash bunch of statements and promises. Essentially, this person decided that a bunch of money (allegedly) to fix this or that and promote the place and do a grand event with a truck show and big racing would be the thing and it was going to happen in a matter of days.

It did. And it didn’t. However, some attention was brought forth and there were some discussions, some exchanges and some attention. We have no idea of all that happened behind the curtain and behind the doors. Whatever it was, the result has been a bit of a rescue from life support.

The remaining bit of 2022 pushed through. There was some instant attention paid to the bits that needed it to simply run the place. The off season was spent with fixing this or replacing that or building or buying more that was deemed essential. The folks who had stepped in stood fast on what they wanted to do for the fans, the drivers and the racing.

Welcome 2023. Racing went on in April. The weather played some tricks but the folks at NBS adjusted and pushed forward. Changes and updates over the winter showed the results and many soft spots that still needed attention were addressed. We made some plans and made a visit for the first Saturday of May.

Now… Here’s the meat of it. The change from July 2022 to May of 2023 is just short of amazing. In no way are we implying that Natural Bridge Speedway is some sort of showplace. However, based on what was there then to what is there now, it is a viable space for organized racing and, with it, a pretty good setting and wallet-easy show for the fans.

General clutter is mostly cleared out. The concession stand has been given attention with upgrades as needed and expanded variety. The track access has been upgraded with race staging and entrance designations. The speaker system is working. All of the signal lights were active. On track communications seemed to be viable. Sponsorships were in place with visible banners and audible acknowledgements on the speaker system. The show on the track was lively and flowing and the main late model event was nothing short of crowded.

This and more, behind the scenes in organization and attention, was evident when looking. These upgrades were done by a few dedicated people who threw their backs in for the fans and for the admiration of the history of this racetrack. Their efforts have been noticed by fans as social media admiration is quite high. Drivers and teams have also given a general “thumbs up” on racing there. It is miles from where it was a dozen months ago.

Is there more to do…? In short… Yes…

However, if the progress now is an indicator they can make a big dent in those issues if this momentum stays on. Most of it is something most fans will not notice. The infield needs some love. The raised viewing platform has been stabilized. The bathrooms are working, it seems. However, the infield concessions needs to be either liquidated and made useful or gutted for another use. Yes, the fix on the fan area concessions was required. No question, the fans come first, but… Those that are the show need the love now. Some access to food and drinks in the infield would be welcome.

The scoreboard… Yes, we know it is not as simple as replacing some lights and plugging in some wires. It has to be integrated with track scoring and transponders and computers and yada, yada, yada….

There are still some general appearance issues. As an example… The front stretch, infield side fencing could be straightened and set upright. Yes, it is a nit-picky detail even if it is, as it is, a convenient open for start/finish photos. It is visible from a fan viewpoint. It detracts. Pull the poles, set them vertical and re-pull the fencing with a “photo hole” for the start/finish.

A general trash pull from the infield. A lot has been done. A LOT has been done. Additional trash cans might help.

The website… It is shown on the online promotion images. However, “” is not active. Yes, Facebook goes a long way but a website is a parking spot for all of that information that stays constant.

Bottom line… Is Natural Bridge Speedway worth your visit? Yes, it is. They are working hard to put on a good show all the way around. They have some hot events on the schedule mixing in with scheduled weekly racing. Race fans are missing out if they don’t check out this little bit of historic red clay down the road from that oddity rock formation giving the area a name.

Racing results from May 6, 2023:
Street Stock: 1st – Ben Hamilton, 2nd – Scott Hostetter, 3rd – Jesse Murray
Rookie: 1st – Aiden Brogan, 2nd/3rd – Max Link / Taylin Tyree
Sportsman: 1st – Jonathan Wolfe, 2nd – Mike Ayers, 3rd – Roger Rohrbaugh
Pure Stock: 1st – Mac Ayers, 2nd – Sam Hamilton, 3rd – Jeremy Fox
Late Model: 1st – Justin Williams, 2nd – Joe Leavell, 3rd – Jesse Quick
Exhibition / Show racing included: Virginia Vintage Racers & Powderpuff

Photo Gallery – Natural Bridge Speedway – May 6, 2023

One month in and the NASCAR racing season is already throwing oddities at the odds. Changes for 2023 made interesting news leading into the season. The early spotlight was bright on Jimmie Johnson who is coming back with a limited driving season. The new team, Legacy Motor Club, formerly Petty GMS Motorsports, will run Johnson’s #84 Chevy.

Jimmie Johnson and Richard Petty

Johnson’s first run back in the Cup car was Daytona. The attention on Johnson was almost ceremonial as welcomes and interviews took place. The on track racing, however, took over quickly. Crashes and cautions did take a toll but it was still a bit of surprise to see Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. take the win for the small JTG Daugherty racing team.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr – JTG Daugherty Racing – Daytona 500 winner, 2023

The M&Ms characters exit from the iconic colors of the #18 Gibbs Toyota which also focused attention on the transfer of Kyle Busch to a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was an off season story. A Busch win was likely in 2023 but, perhaps, not so early on as the second race of the season. Some seat time to get used to the new team would have been expected but Busch put the #8 in Victory Lane at Auto Club.

Kyle Busch notches an early season win in the new #8 with Richard Childress Racing

Is it a surprise, or simply ironic, that William Byron with a Liberty University sponsor wins at Sin City? Granted, the #24 was sporting the Raptor colors for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube but Byron and Liberty have a long association. The Vegas racing dealt all the cards at Byron as he took the stages and the win.

William Byron takes the checkered, and the stages, at Las Vegas (March 5, 2023)

There are also the questions concerning Chase Elliott. He took a tumble at Vail on a snowboard and is out of the #9 for a while recovering from a broken leg. How long he is out is currently set at 6 races. Josh Berry took the #9 seat at Vegas and will do so for most that Chase is out. IMSA driver Jordan Taylor is tapped to run in Texas for Circuit Of The Americas.

Chase Elliott, out for several races due to a snowboarding injury

If the race count checks, our math has Chase Elliott back in the #9 Chevy at Martinsville. April is a big month for NASCAR in Virginia. Richmond, Bristol (Tennessee, but… yeah…) and Martinsville are on tap. Phoenix, Atlanta and Texas remain for March.

Virginia, however, does not have to wait. Good racing is coming in March. Season openers are on track from Franklin County to Dominion, from Lonesome Pine to Langley, and practically every track with a flag and a gate.

Get those short track tickets for some hot laps before those big NASCAR rigs pull into town. Racing is coming, Virginia. Your support keeps it hot.

There was a lot to look at coming into Daytona. Kevin Harvick announcing his last season… Jimmie Johnson coming back… Kyle Busch in a Chevy…

With all of that, the NASCAR opener also signals the waking of racing across the country. Some tracks in the southern regions are already turning laps. NASCAR notes had already focused on a young woman (Katie Hettinger) taking the checkers at New Smyrna leading into Daytona weekend.

Some nice weather and and an open invitation had Virginia tracks turning some early practice laps as NASCAR was focused on the Great American Race. Among those was Motor Mile Speedway hosting a Daytona watch party in the suites and an open practice session for drivers and teams. This was a great opportunity to check how those winter builds and changes added up to track performance. It was also a good way to get some fans to the track to build some interest in the upcoming season.

We should also note, in this area of Virginia, Franklin County Speedway was hosting some lap sessions while Natural Bridge was working on track and structures.

Motor Mile, however, has some early traction as the SuperStar Racing Experience (SRX Racing) has Motor Mile on the schedule. There is also a partnership with Lonesome Pine Raceway that should make some waves in Southwest Virginia racing. Lonesome Pine is set for a season opener featuring the SMART Modifieds in March.

For Daytona, the “500” ended much the same as the Xfinity race the evening before. Some late race wrecks put the pressure on for another overtime green, white, checker finish. The speed and close racing put Aric Almirola into Travis Pastrana which set a spinning mess in motion. However, final lap rules played out again and the caution landed on the Kroger #47 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr for the win.

22023 Daytona 400 Winner – Ricky Stenhouse, Jr

Photo Gallery from Motor Mile Speedway – Open Practice, February 19, 2023

Virginia racing in 2022 raised the bar a bit. There was quite a bit of attention on some profile events. NASCAR, for example, ran up some winning numbers.

Denny Hamlin had his first 2022 win at Richmond in April. Kevin Harvick rolled his second win there in August. Both of these drivers had 2 wins which put both in the playoffs.

William Byron also had 2 wins and a playoff bid with Martinsville hosting one of those in April. The playoff elimination race at Martinsville was also one for the books. Up to the final laps, the race was really conservative. Drivers and teams played the race with caution rather than charge and risk equipment or place. The late laps developed into more of a race but it was Ross Chastain that made the move to be remembered. Running on the outside with his foot on the floor, he drove the wall of turn 3 and 4, literally, to hold speed and pass Hamlin to make run at the “final 4”.

Late Model racing also came down to the wire for the championship. The NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series came down to some controversy and tight racing at Motor Mile and Dominion Raceway. Virginia was the focus from the western to the eastern part of the state. Defending Champ Peyton Sellers and Layne Riggs were separated by just a few points. The Motor Mile races ran hot with Sellers in a borrowed car for the wins. Those races were later held out and the Dominion races pushed the points with Riggs on top by 4. Riggs was now the youngest champion. The previous one to hold that distinction was Sellers.

Another big score for Virginia was the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) running at South Boston. Drivers from across the spectrum settled in for national TV network racing showcasing the track and the southside Virginia region. NASCAR and IndyCar stars such as Tony Stewart and Ryan Hunter-Reay were just a couple of highlight drivers running on the historic South Boston asphalt.

Virginia International Raceway has been a national showcase for the state with nothing but growth and support from IMSA (ROLEX 24 level of racing here in VA), Grand-Am, F3/F4 and more. VIR has been consistent with fans and drivers.

Dirt tracks certainly had a good showing with Virginia racing. There is good support from the east at Virginia Motor Speedway to to the west at Wythe Raceway. Winchester in the north to Natural Bridge in south central ran weekly with a good show variety.

Drag racing even had a national return as Virginia Motorsports Park added NHRA Nationals to their busy 2022 schedule.

The result is a strong racing foundation in Virginia grass roots and fan support. For 2023, we’re hoping these events keep the energy high. NASCAR, of course, has 4 appearances (6, if you count Bristol on the Tennessee side) split at Richmond and Martinsville. NHRA may be skipping VMP in 2023 but there will be plenty of other big series running the lights. The SRX series is also back in Virginia with a spot on the Motor Mile schedule! IMSA, SRO and Hyperfest are just some of the returning events for VIR.

Strap in, Virginia… Racing is coming in hot!

Summer weather is a bit unpredictable… For the most part, Saturday night at Motor Mile Speedway had a slight chance of a passing shower. That “slight” chance opened the sky for good 30 minute downpour which, of course, pushed racing back by a little more than 30 minutes. Qualifying was interrupted but track trying was under way by the time the original green flag was to fly. The schedule was juggled just a bit and the scheduled 75 laps of twin Late Model races was cut to 50 laps.

Other than that, the stories at Motor Mile were wide open. The visiting Super Cup Late Models presented a good field of cars. The Late Model “regulars” even had some visitors boosting those numbers on the track. The season has a rivalry challenge brewing as Mike Looney and Kyle Dudley are dominating this season and it seems some of those visitors were taking their shot at making a dent.

Among the visitors were two ladies challenging the Late Models… 15 year old Katie Hettinger (Michigan), who has notched some race wins and has runs in the Carolina Pro and CARS Tours, and Samantha Rohrbaugh (West Virginia), who also runs some Super Cup but was challenging the Late Models at Motor Mile for this one. It was also notable that Katie and Samantha started the first Late Model race side by side on the front row.

Another Late Model interest was Motor Mile regular Bryan Reedy as he was there running a borrowed and blue #77 with a little tape to mark it up as #17 for the evening. His regular car still had lingering damage from the week before.

One more regular season race is on the schedule for Championship points across the board. That comes up in September. The CARS Tour is on tap for the 28th of August. Racing this past Saturday, August 20, did move the standings a bit.

Mike Looney pushed just 5 points beyond Kyle Dudley with his double shot Late Model wins. Dudley drove in the second slot in both and visiting Katie Hettinger drove in third in both. (*We were pleasantly surprised to see Katie there. It was unexpected. We met her last season at Franklin County and look forward to seeing more good results and a hot future.)

Karl Budzevski added to his dominant Sportsman season with double shot wins. The Super Street division has several contenders and Joe White made the win and a move up. Kevin Cantor grabbed a Mod-4 win and also moved within top spot striking distance. Jamie Lafon extended his UCar lead and William Hale did the same in Mod-4.

Larry Berg and Jason Kitzmiller split the Super Cup Late Model wins. Berg took the first and Kitzmiller took the second.

Full Photo Gallery from A-1 Heating and Cooling Night at Motor Mile Speedway

It’s a bit warmer… The daylight lingers a bit longer… The original date was scheduled in May. Those pesky Spring showers forced a re-schedule. Maybe twice…

July 30, 2022. The weather brought a break in temperature and humidity from earlier in the week to set the stage for a good evening of racing at Motor Mile Speedway. The Pulaski County Play Outside 250 presented by Shively Electric was finally going to happen.

The crowd filtered in with gates at 4pm and an open “pit party” with cars and drivers on the front stretch at 5:30pm. A childrens’ bicycle race started the racing festivities at 6:30pm. The first green flag was set for 7:00pm. The evening set at Motor Mile generally followed the regular series on tap with the addition of the traveling Southern Ground Pounders which feature vintage style race cars.

The Total Car Care Mod-4 set off with the engine command and green flag set in motion by folks from Pulaski County. The 25 lap starter was won by Jonathan Hall.

The Collision Plus Sportsman presented a good field to race the first of the two 30 lap runs. Race one had the checkers taken by Karl Budzevski.

The Late Models, presented by Price’s Body Shop, also had a double shot on the schedule. The first of the 50 lap races was won by Mike Looney as he added another notch to his Motor Mile win list.

The Southern Ground Pounders took the track next with their 25 lap exhibition race. Chris Werner won the Modified division and Shawn Otey won the Sportsman division.

The second of the “Twin 30” Collision Plus Sportsman took the green under the full lights of the track. Once again for the evening, Karl Budveskie put his #7 in Victory Lane.

Late Models put on their second 50 lap show. Mike Looney gave a good run on Kyle Dudley but fell back later in the race as Dudley held on for the win.

The Enduros had a good showing also with a winner’s pot set at $2000.00 on the 100 lap, special “bubble race”. (What’s a “bubble race”…? It’s a race through bubbles… Duh…) OK… Two party bubble machines were set at the start/finish and cars race by stirring and pushing the bubbles. Yes… It is…

It is as odd and weird and, as it was, just as underwhelming as it sounds. The 100 lap race, however, had plenty of action and some good challenges on the lead. That lead, however, was mostly dominated by an orange #43 Infiniti wheeled by Trevor Heart.

Photo Gallery from Motor Mile Speedway / Pulaski County Play Outside 250

We don’t know. That refers to the current (July 16, 2022 to “Maybe”, “Unknown” and “What…?”) situation and drama that is Natural Bridge Speedway.

The place has been around since the 1950s. However, there are some issues that are pulling at the calendar at this 3/8 mile clay oval. There are some definite facility issues. The drag strip has been down for a while and the chances of it coming back to speed are slight. The oval, which has been hosting a weekly schedule, is on the edge of an implosion. There are stories of staffing issues, deteriorating structure and facility components, race winners not being paid, security and/or safety concerns and just plain indifference to the racers and fans.

On top of all that, water in the infield facilities (such as it is) just isn’t…

Now… This is where it gets a little… weird. A few days before race day, (Saturday 7-16) some chatter opened up on the NBS Facebook page. (The website, by the way, has been off for a while… Like the infield water…) There was an announcement that a fellow, apparently native of the area, was stepping in as promoter / director. This man immediately made a show of his plans. There was Facebook Live (since deleted) and big promises. Driver payouts, things getting fixed, big plans in the works for big events, a truck show…

To Be Fair…

Te be fair… He seemed to have a wide range of support… On paper, anyway. The FB Live presentation went wide and wild and then there was another FB Live as a kind of rebuttal clarification on the first that also strained the guard rails of staying on topic.

By race day, it seems there were many bits of the strategy as presented that were scratched. We now know, or have been presented with, an “after event” narrative. Friday practice was scrubbed as no EMT/Ambulance was available. A scoring computer was missing… Radios that were, at best, vintage to start with, were inoperative and/or broken and missing… The infield water situation has already been mentioned… There were property tax issues (?)… Track treatment water trucks and the water supply for them… Tow vehicles…

For race day, it did start with a “truck show”. A hip-hop hi-rise truck show. Oddly cool but also seemingly out of place…? Just a bit.

Qualifying was scrubbed as timing and scoring was dependent on a computer that was either missing or simply inoperative. Starting order was determined by draw. Despite numerous declarations of a definite green at 7:00pm, the actual first race start go off about 20 minutes late.

Not bad… They got in the National Anthem.

Natural Bridge Speedway is a 3/8 mile clay-dirt track. The surface has been raced on, graded, conditioned, watered, compressed and raked for 60 years or so. In short, it is dirt track racing and it gets sideways fast.

The crowd was actually really good, as far as appearances go. The car count for racing was pretty good, also. The crates ran the largest field but there were enough in the other divisions for good runs. There were some spins… One went over the edge top of turns 3 – 4 (OK, it seems… The ambulance didn’t go hot…) A purple car chased a multi-color car… A little car fought a bigger tire…

The show on the track was quite good. The fans were engaged. The racing went off, for the most part, easily enough. Staging and out for the green flag was set with little confusion despite having no real radio communications. The end result, from a fan looking in standpoint and from what was witnessed, was an evening of very good racing.

The show leading up to the show might have had elements borrowed from a train wreck. As of this writing, the fellow who ran NBS for those few days quit the gig, decided not to quit the gig and was, apparently, removed from the gig and seems to be still talking about the gig.

Who is driving this train now…? How much money was spent…? Whose money…? We think the drivers and positions were paid so there is that… Is there racing this coming weekend…?

We have no idea… but here are some photos!

July 16th, 2022 at Natural Bridge Speedway.