Bristol Motor Speedway and the City of Nashville are in discussions to bring major NASCAR racing back to the Nashville Fairgrounds as early as 2022, according to a Monday press release by the mayor’s office.
Discussions are for Bristol Motor Speedway to take over the management of the track. It includes shifting financial responsibility away from the city to BMS for track renovation and maintenance. The agreement would take the burden off Nashville taxpayers through lease, rent and shared-event revenue.
“The racetrack can stop being a financial drain on taxpayers. Instead, it can generate positive cash flow and help fund community improvements at the racetrack, at the Fairgrounds and at Fair Park. This historic site can be a great, long-term asset for the community and the city,” Mayor John Cooper said.
The mayor noted that “Bristol Motor Speedway, with their experience, is an ideal partner to help achieve those goals.”
Fairgrounds Speedway is behind only the Milwaukee Mile as the second-oldest operating motor speedway in the United States, dating back to 1904. It hosted the NASCAR Cup Series from 1958-84. Richard Petty won a track-record nine races, followed by Franklin resident Darrell Waltrip with eight.
Speedway Motorsports, the parent company of BMS, made a public presentation to then-mayor David Briley in March 2019 for a $60 million renovation plan of the facility. It would turn the track into a 30,000-seat structure with an expanded concourse.
The potential agreement announced Monday would involve attracting major NASCAR events as well as continuing local racing and non-racing events like live music and corporate functions. The facility would also be open to community organizations.
Recently, Nashville Superspeedway in Gladeville signed a four-year agreement with NASCAR to host Cup Series races. The sanctioning body would have to approve a second date in the Metropolitan Nashville area for a race at the Fairgrounds. Still, SMI President and Chief Executive Officer Marcus Smith was itching to get started.
“Bristol Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports are thrilled to take this step forward with Mayor Cooper, the Fair Board, Metro Council and the neighborhood stakeholders,” Smith said. “We can work together to transform Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway into an amazing multipurpose entertainment destination. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and go to work to fully restore the speedway, recruit national events and breathe new life into a venue that has a legendary status in auto racing history.”
CLASSES ADDED TO DIRT NATIONALS
There have been seven additional classes added to the featured Super Late Models for the inaugural Bristol Dirt Nationals on March 15-20 at BMS.
It will offer an overall combined purse of more than $400,000, headlined by a pair of 50-lap Super Late Model features on Friday and Saturday night. The Friday race will be $10,000-to-win with Saturday’s grand finale paying a $50,000 winner’s purse.
Other classes to race on the high-banked, half-mile track include Modifieds, Sport Mods, Stock Cars, 602 and 604 Crate Late Models, Hornets (compacts) and Open Modifieds. Due to pit space considerations, all supporting divisions will be limited to 150 entries per class. The Super Late Models will not have an entry cap.
There will be heat and feature races on each day early in the week to set the fields for the main feature races in each of the seven support classes during the weekend.