Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock, Bristol Motor Speedway GM Jerry Caldwell speak on Battle at Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Organizers for the Battle at Bristol will have less than three weeks to turn Bristol Motor Speedway from race track to football field.

And at times, that's still an uneasy prospect for Virginia Tech athletics director Whit Babcock. But after hearing the speedway's pitch and plans on how to make the Battle at Bristol a reality, Babcock is as easy-going with it as he can.

"We asked a number of questions about that," Babcock said. "But they seem like they've got their act together and they being Bristol, know how important it is, as well. I believe they have a great plan and they laid it out, but (19 days), they'll be hustling to turn it from a race to a football stadium."

Following the Food City 300 Aug. 21, 450 truckloads of sand will be brought in to form a three-foot base for the football field in the track's infield, which will be covered with a synthetic surface by AstroTurf. While Bristol Motor Speedway general manager Jerry Caldwell said the 150,000 seats in the grandstand have been sold, 5,000 temporary seats will be added on the two straightaways. Parts of the track's catch fence will be taken down and two of the buildings in the infield will be converted to locker rooms.

The massive overhaul, though, is over 20-plus years in the making. And for Caldwell, it's a chance to be on a global stage, as numerous attendance records are set to be shattered. Already, Caldwell said Bristol Motor Speedway is the first outdoor venue to have what it calls 'Colossus,' a center-hung scoreboard with four giant removable video screens.

"I think it's surreal, to know that this thing is now 30 days out" Caldwell said. "We announced it three years ago. The first conversations around this were really late 2012, when we started bringing engineers in here to study, to make sure we could do it and cost and timing and sightlines. We really wanted to do our homework before we started talking to the schools. So it's been a long process."

On Wednesday, the game's trophy was unveiled, complete with streamers, confetti and fireworks. The game will have plenty of attention, in the primetime, national television spot on Sept. 10. 

One of the only things it won't have, is coach Frank Beamer shooting out of a cannon. Though Babcock said he hopes to honor Beamer in some way prior to the game.

"Coach Beamer's been great and he's been very gracious," Babcock said. "But he just likes to be low-key, which is his great trait."

Check out the above video for full interviews with Babcock and Caldwell.


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