BRISTOL, Tenn. - It's quickly approaching -- in just two weeks race fans will be flocking to the Tri-Cities to watch the non-stop action at Bristol Motor Speedway. But when they're not cheering, those fans need a place to sleep. We wanted to see if phones have been ringing off the hook at hotels and campgrounds with fans booking a room.
The welcome sign for fans is out earlier than usual at Twin-City Drive-In Campground. "In case anybody wants to come by, especially real close people that want to come by," said owner Ellen Warden.
But there's a good reason, Warden says reservations during the March race at Bristol Motor Speedway have been dwindling. With just two-weeks to go, only three campers have called to reserve a spot.
"Usually by this time I have at least 40 to 50 calls for camping reservations and I don't even have that. In fact I haven't even heard from some of my regulars at all," added Warden.
Those low numbers might be a trend in the Tri-Cities, we stopped at Days Inn off Interstate 81 and learned this close to race week rooms are usually booked solid at least 6-months in advance. But calls this year are coming in slowly. "We're over 50% booked, which is good but we're not swamped with reservations like we normally are," said manager Jay Harrison.
The reason why, employees are quick to answer. "It's because of the weather most likely. Two years ago the race was snowed out, the race fans were not happy and the March race hasn't been the same since," added Harrison.
Back at the campgrounds, Warden blames mother nature and the sluggish economy. "I hope it picks up and I hope weather gets better," she said.
We did find some hotels booked for the upcoming race -- nearly every hotel at Exit 7 in Bristol, Virginia is booked for race weekend.
BMS is also offering R-V rentals this year, where fans can stay in a rented R-V on track property.