“Thunderstruck.” It’s a rhythmic song with a simple chorus. “Thunderstruck, thunderstruck, thunderstruck.” When played in full, the tune runs nearly five minutes in length and features the roar of thunder throughout. The booming song was the first release from the band ACDC’s 1990 album “The Razor’s Edge.” Written by bandmates Angus and Malcolm Young, there has been some debate over what inspired “Thunderstruck.” One story tells the tale of a situation in which Angus Young came up with the song after the plane on which he was flying was struck by lightning. Another story recants that the band was inspired to pen “Thunderstruck” after watching military maneuvers at Fort Hood in Texas. The common theme of the stories behind the song, however, is the notion that it’s a lyrical interpretation of a tale in which an individual is awestruck by an impressive force of action.
Regardless of the inspiration behind “Thunderstruck,” the song is easily one of the band’s most recognized tunes. Ironically, the song never reached the top spot on any of the musical charts, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard charts in 1990. It’s a fairly surprising fact given the role the song plays in a variety of television shows, films and sporting events, making it a song that has become more appreciated with age. The fact that the song has become the anthem of various sporting events and teams through the years has only added to its popularity.
“Thunderstruck” isn’t the official song of any tracks visited by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but the venue at which the hymn most aptly applies is the sport’s very own Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Nicknamed “Thunder Valley,” Bristol plays host to the Sprint Cup Series for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race. Scoring a win at Bristol can be a daunting task given the high-banked concrete oval’s tough reputation. Any win at the Sprint Cup level is an incredible accomplishment. But, doing so at Bristol takes the sense of accomplishment to another level, particularly when that win is scored during the highly regarded annual night race.
Racing under the lights at Bristol always seems to add to the drama that unfolds at NASCAR’s shortest track. For the second time in five years, competitors will travel to Thunder Valley facing a bit of the unknown. In an effort to restore Bristol to the bump-and-run type of racing for which it has become notorious, track officials worked to reconfigure the track’s surface and make it less conducive of the side-by-side racing action that has become associated with the track in the last several years.
One driver who enjoyed the old rough-and-tumble nature of the “old Bristol” is Kurt Busch. The driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing is a five-time winner at Bristol. Busch scored each of those five wins prior to the night race in August 2007, the first Bristol race after the track’s repaving project earlier that season. In fact, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion experienced the majority of his Bristol success during the 2002 through 2007 seasons. In the 12 races run during that six-season stretch, Busch scored his five wins in addition to nine top-10 finishes. He led at least one lap in nine of those 12 races for a total of 562 laps led from 2002 to 2007. While Busch has continued to perform at a high level when it comes to Bristol, he enjoyed his greatest success prior to the track’s repaving.
It remains to be seen whether the efforts extended by track officials will restore Bristol to the former glory many drivers and fans used to enjoy. Whether it is “old Bristol” or “new Bristol,” the track remains a force with which to be reckoned. To best the half-mile bullring offers the conquering hero that rare chance to be in awe of the accomplishment. As such, Busch hopes to be “Thunderstruck” in Bristol, once again.