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NASCAR closer to a return to Nashville

Geoff Bodine wins a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Fairgrounds Speedway, then known as Nashville Speedway, in 1984 (photo courtesy of ISC Archives/Getty Images).


A reported deal struck between Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway operator Tony Formosa and Speedway Motorsports Inc. brings the possibility of a NASCAR return to the Nashville short track at least one step closer to reality. The deal, though, needs approval from Nashville’s city government to result in NASCAR’s return to the track, as the facility and the fairgrounds surrounding it is municipally owned and operated by the Metro Board of Fair Commissions.

“Tony and our team both see the same bright future for Fairgrounds Speedway,” Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell told The Tennessean, Nashville’s Daily newspaper. “Nashville has a special reputation as one of the most exciting tracks in the history of motorsports, and the region has a remarkably large and passionate fan base. The motorsports industry — the sanctioning bodies, drivers and race teams — is excited about Nashville’s potential to be a regular site for major events. With Metro supportive of that vision, we are eager to start working tomorrow with the city, Tony and other stakeholders at the Fairgrounds and beyond, to develop a first-class racing facility and program.”

Bristol Motor Speedway is one of eight tracks hosting NASCAR national-series races and owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports Inc. SMI’s goal is to get dates on the NASCAR Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck series for Fairgrounds Speedway in 2020 and, ultimately, get the track a date on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.

NASCAR’s Cup Series last raced at the Fairgrounds in 1984. The Busch (now-Xfinity) Series and Craftsman (now-Gander Outdoors) Truck Series last raced at the track in 2000 before moving to a newer, larger track, Nashville Superspeedway, near Lebanon, Tenn. Nashville Superspeedway hosted those two series through the 2011 race season before shutting down.

“What we’ve done is started the first step to do just that, bring NASCAR back to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville,” SMI President and CEO Marcus Smith said during an interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We still have some work to do. We have a great relationship with the city and with the Formosas, who have been operating the weekly program at the race track really successfully. So now we’ve got to work with the city and other people to bring this vision to life and get it ready for the big time. We’re working hard with the city with the goal of bringing the Fairgrounds back to life.”

The City of Nashville has plans to turn the Fairgrounds into a professional sports megaplex including a Major League Soccer stadium. Plans also leave open the option of keeping the race track. Improvements would need to be made to the track to bring it up to NASCAR national-level standards, including the installation of required SAFER barriers. The city government already has set aside $1.7 million for improvement to the track’s grandstands. Additional funding for improvements would need to be negotiated by the city government and Speedway Motorsports Inc.

NASCAR driver Chase Elliott is among those in the NASCAR community voicing support via social media of a return to Nashville.

“We as drivers need to be trying to help this along just as you fans need to support this deal all the way through including supporting IN PERSON if it’s pulled off,” Elliott (@ChaseElliott) tweeted. “Cup needs this type of racing imo, but we all need to support if we want it as bad as we say we do…”

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Posted by on December 21, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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