If you've been thinking about a trip to one of the coolest Aquariums ever built then visit the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee. NASCAR Driver Brendan Gaughan paid a visit in dramatic fashion as he helped promote the Aquarium as well as "The Last Great Colosseum" located north of Chattanooga in the form of Bristol Motor Speedway. He went swimming with the sharks... really, he actually went swimming with a bunch of sharks. Talk about gaining instant fans in the crowds of young race fans who stopped by for the event.

Guaghan, driver of the No. 62 South Point Chevrolet, is also a certified SCUBA divemaster and it seems like a prefect fit for an event being held at the Aquarium. It was Bristol Motor Speedway Day so what better way to promote racing that park some really cool race cars out front including the Bristol Motor Speedway pacecar. Then, have one of the most likable drivers in the sport connect with fans and then dive into a MASSIVE tank with some huge sharks!

"My life is very aggressive and fast paced. One of the great things about SCUBA diving is that it gives me the opportunity to slow down and just live in that moment," Gaughan said. "It is such a peaceful, safe sport that I enjoy sharing with my family. I could not wait to share the unique experience at the Tennessee Aquarium with everyone."

It's a fact that many people fear sharks and worry about their "killer attitude," but Gaughan knows the truth about sharks including the Aquarium's toothy Sand Tiger and Sandbar Sharks. According to Gaughan the sharks might be friendlier than the other drivers he faces while competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In fact, the driver says "it's safer!"

"I feel much safer next to a Sand Tiger Shark than I do next to some of my competitors," Gaughan said. "On the track I have to get to know my competitors to find out who the Great Whites are and who the Nurse Sharks are. When I'm in the ocean I know that most sharks are peaceful creatures. Unfortunately, many television programs haven't done these animals any favors. They frequently make them out to be ferocious, man-eating animals, but they aren't."

Gaughan says that his diving experience and the educational departments of organizations such as the Tennessee Aquarium help get the word out about what sharks are really like. Nobody is suggesting to go jumping into shark filled waters and start trying to pet them. But Gaughan points out that sometimes sharks have been given a bad wrap.

"It's sad and devastating what humans have done to them," Gaughan said. "Every year a substantial number of sharks are killed. I'd like to think that when people come to places like the Tennessee Aquarium, to see and appreciate these amazing creatures, they get excited about helping them. Hopefully, increased awareness leads to additional conservation measures to save sharks before it's too late."

Thom Benson, of the Tennessee Aquarium, noted that the dive by Guaghan is also a great way to promote an upcoming event that's perfect for people that enjoy sharks. "SharkFest at the Tennessee Aquarium is coming up on Friday, August 1st." For more information Benson says to check out the aquarium website.

Soon Gaughan and NASCAR will be heading back to Bristol Motor Speedway. August 20, 22-23 will be packed with racing starting on Wednesday night.

  • Double header: Both the Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by Z-Loop and the Whelen Modified 150.
  • Nationwide Series: New Food City 300 under the lights Saturday night.
  • Sprint Cup Series: running of the IRWIN Tools Night Race on Sunday night.


Images: Bristol Motor Speedway / Bamber Photography

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Parent Category: Travel
Category: Travel Log
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