If you’ve never been to Bristol, you’re probably wondering where exactly it is. The answer is: It’s in Bristol, England. The speedway itself is in the suburb of Templeville, and the whole complex is nicknamed “Bristol Speedway” because of its abundance of racing traditions.
The venue opened in 1914, and it’s still one of the premier race tracks in Great Britain. It is famous for its steep “Bankers Hill” corner, which is one of the most dangerous curves on the entire circuit. In 2015, the complex was renovated to feature a brand-new stand and suites for VIPs. The capacity of the track is now approximately 73,000 people, and it regularly hosts major national and international sporting events, as well as music concerts and other social gatherings.
What Events Does Bristol Speedway Host?
Over the years, Bristol has hosted a variety of sports events, from car and motorcycle races to concerts featuring the biggest names in the music industry. Here’s a brief overview of some of the more memorable sporting events and concerts that the venue has hosted:
1914: The First Bristol Speedway Race
The first ever World Championship motorcycle race took place at the Bristol Speedway on August 23, 1914. The races were organized by the T&S Blackstock Company, and they attracted huge crowds. The first race was won by Englishman Harry Collier in a Vickers machine, clocking in at an incredible 57.875 miles per hour. The lap record for the quarter mile was subsequently broken five times, and the feat earned Collier the title of Bristol’s “Speed King.”
Fast forward a century, and you’ll see that the venue’s popularity has not diminished one bit. In fact, the opposite is true: It has become one of the most popular sporting venues in Europe, second only to the Home of Racing in Leamons, England. The grandstands and entire complex were fully renovated in 2015, and the entire area has been repaved. It now features an all-weather, all-terrain surface, completely replacing the old dirt track. In addition to the motorcycle races, the venue now hosts various types of car races and social gatherings, such as classic car exhibitions and rallies. There’s also an IKEA UK stand, which offers a unique insight into modern British design.
1930: The First NASCAR Race
If you’re not familiar, NASCAR is a popular motorsport that was first organized in 1947. It is widely considered to be a sport that was born in the U.S., and it continues to grow in popularity every year. The sport is a combination of American Football and Formula One racing, and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Anyone who’s ever seen the movie Bullitt knows what kind of car the character Dave Birkenstock drives. He’s also the founder of NASCAR and still regularly attends races held at Bristol. The first ever NASCAR race was held at the Bristol Speedway in August 1930, and the capacity of the venue at that time was 15,000 spectators. Nowadays, there are many major NASCAR races held at the Bristol complex every year, and some of them attract huge crowds. It’s also one of the few remaining venues where you can see real live pit crews and mechanics working on the cars during the course of a race. It’s basically like going to auto mechanics school, but instead of learning how to fix cars, you’re learning about motorsport.
1942: Dixie Chicks Come To Play
Bristol was one of the first British cities to feel the full impact of World War II, and the damage was extensive. Large numbers of the city’s young men were lost in the conflict, and it took decades for the region to recover. Bristol and its surrounding areas were transformed during the war years, and the region’s traditional rural industries were replaced by a thriving armaments business. That’s probably why the city is now filled with examples of Edwardian and Victorian architectural styles, many of which are listed buildings. It was during this time that the Dixie Chicks came to play at the Bristol speedway. The American pop music group performed six shows between July and September 1942, and the venue’s attendance record for this period was 181,253 spectators. This was a milestone for the speedway, as the record attendance for a three-month period was previously held by King George’s Hall in London, England, where the group’s eponymous first album was released in 1974.
1987: Live Aid
In February 1987, the Live Aid concert was held at the Old Whitehall Leisure Center in Bristol. It was a telethon organized by Bob Geldof to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. The concert was one of the biggest events of its kind, and it raised an incredible £60.7 million ($90.5 million) for the cause. The concert was headlined by the biggest names in popular music at the time, including U2, Madonna, and Michael Jackson. The concert was considered to be a defining moment for both the band U2 and the entire Live Aid movement, which continues to this day. The group famously reused the Bristol Speedway logo on their album, The Joshua Tree (1987).
2002: The Return Of The Music Man
Bristol’s music scene experienced something of a revival in the early 2000s, and this was largely due to the efforts of Tim Rice-Oxley, the founder and director of Summershall Academy of Music. The academy is a professional performing arts school that offers music, acting, and dance classes for young people in the city. One of his major initiatives was the restoration of the Bristol Old Vic, which featured prominently in the 1989 film adaptation of the Hugh Lofting children’s novel The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. In 2002, the Old Vic was reopened after an 18-month, £5 million refurbishment, and it continues to host a variety of performances from contemporary plays to classical music concerts and opera. The Bristol Old Vic is currently the second-largest theatre venue in Europe, following the London Palladium, and it regularly attracts large audiences and high demand for shows. Among other things, it is home to the West End premiere of Rupert Goold’s The Cocktail Party. It was also the setting for Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables, which won seven awards at this year’s Oscars, including Best Picture. The film adaptation Of Victor Hugo’s epic novel is currently the biggest box office hit in the history of the Bristol Paramount cinema. In addition to restoring the Old Vic, Tim Rice-Oxley also founded the Bristol Children’s Choir, which gives free music lessons to young people in the city. These range from the classics to contemporary songs, and it’s a great way to boost kids’ confidence and teach them to appreciate different genres of music. Tim Rice-Oxley was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for his services to arts in Bristol in 2015.
2006: Britpop And Live Concerts
Bristol’s music scene experienced something of a golden era in the mid-to-late 2000s, and it was largely thanks to the efforts of musician and performer Tim Rice-Oxley. The Summershall Academy of Music was one of the first major institutions to really exploit the potential of the Internet and social media in promoting their work, and they were among the first to embrace the new technologies. This is partly because of the influence of Rice-Oxley’s dad, Andrew, who was an early adopter of the web, and partly because of Tim’s own background in digital marketing and communications. It’s fair to say that Rice-Oxley helped to create an environment where musicians could thrive, and it’s an environment that continues to this day. In 2006, the city’s first annual Poetry Festival was launched, and it continues to this day. It was founded by Delilah Devlin, who also founded the Bristol School of Art. In 2015, it was reported that England’s largest poetry festival, WordFest, which is based at the Bristol Forum, attracted more than 23,000 people over the two-day event.
It was also during this time that festivals and gigs became more popular than ever before. One of the major reasons for this is that people are looking for ways to socialize and connect with others outside their usual social circles. For instance, Generation Z are more likely to go to gigs and festivals than any other generation, and part of the reason for this is that they are more digitally separated from their friends and families than ever before. This is also because of the influence of TikTok, the hugely popular video sharing platform, which was founded by a member of Generation Z, and because of the app’s focus on social media metrics and the number of people you can reach. These apps opened up a whole new world of opportunity for young people, who now have access to gig guides, artist profiles, and playlists that are populated with the biggest names in music. They can also use these apps to connect with other young people who share their interests, whether it’s music, traveling, or fashion.