Nashville Reaches Deal To Renovate & Bring NASCAR Cup Series Racing Back To Fairgrounds Speedway

A high angle view of a stadium

Big week for NASCAR fans here in Music City.

Nashville is playing host to NASCAR this week as the series hosts its Champions Week, which will include activities throughout the city all week leading up to the awards ceremony for the sport’s three series.

One of the most anticipated events of the week is Burnouts on Broadway, the annual burnout competition that sees the streets in front of Nashville’s famous row of honky tonks shut down as the drivers from the Cup Series playoffs do their best to burn some rubber.

(If you’re in Nashville this week, make sure to check it out – trust me, it’s a lot more fun to see burnouts on Broadway than the usual parade of bachelorettes and pedal taverns).

But pretty soon we may be seeing some NASCAR burnouts just a couple miles from Broadway on the racetrack.

NASCAR made its return to the Nashville area this year, with all three series racing at Nashville Superspeedway just outside of Music City in Lebanon, Tennessee.

The ultimate goal for many, though, has been to bring NASCAR back to the half-mile short track at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, which hasn’t hosted a Cup Series race since 1984.

Even Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that NASCAR picked the wrong Nashville track to return to, and has been working with the city to attempt to revive the Fairgrounds Speedway, which is the second-oldest operating motor speedway in the country.

Earlier this year, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced that the city had signed a letter of intent with Bristol Motor Speedway to renovate Fairgrounds Speedway, which hasn’t hosted a NASCAR Cup Series race since 1984.

And now, the city of Nashville and Bristol Motor Speedway have reached an agreement on a proposal to renovate Fairgrounds Speedway and bring NASCAR Cup Series racing back to the track.

Under the agreement, Bristol will lease the speedway from the city, and will manage and operate the facility for 30 years.

Grandstands will be rebuilt to seat approximately 30,000 fans, and state-of-the-art sound mitigation components will be installed to reduce noise for surrounding residents. The track will also limit track practice rentals to 20 days per year in an attempt to address concerns from locals about the potential for noise from the track.

The city will issue $75 million in bonds to finance the renovations, and the track will become part of a large new development that includes the new Nashville SC soccer stadium.

In announcing the agreement, the mayor’s office said that the renovated speedway and fairgrounds complex could bring in up to $100 million to the city annually:

“A slate of NASCAR series and other major races, in addition to an expanded calendar of revenue-producing, non-motorsports events would generate about $100 million annually in economic activity, through visitor spending at hotels, restaurants and other local attractions.”

Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Bristol Motor Speedway, said that the deal is a major step forward in bringing NASCAR racing back to the 117-year old speedway:

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the mayor, government officials and Nashville community to breathe new life in the legendary Fairgrounds Speedway.

In addition to bringing major NASCAR series races back to the historic facility, we’ll create a calendar for local racing and special events that generates a positive economic impact for the region.”

I can’t even tell you how excited I am that this whole thing finally seems to be moving forward. As a NASCAR fan who’s gotten pretty sick of the 1.5 mile speedways that have dominated the Cup Series schedule over the past decade or so, another short track on the schedule really gets me pumped.

NASCAR has been accused a lot lately of getting away from its roots, and a return to the Nashville Fairgrounds, which hosted a Cup Series race every year from 1958-1984, would be a great step in the right direction.

Can’t wait to see Katelyn Larson shotgunning a beer in Victory Lane at the Fairgrounds Speedway.

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