Multiple bidders for promoter role at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville
These two tracks have a history. In 1969, Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville went under a reconstruction period. The new corners featured 35 degree’s of banking.
In the same year, nearby Bristol Motor Speedway also introduced a reconstructed surface. The banking at Bristol, 36 degree’s. 1 degree’s more than the nearby Nashville. Why? These tracks were competing to be the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”
Later, Fairgrounds Speedway reduced it’s banking significantly. The current surface sits at 18 degree’s. Bristol Motor Speedway also reduced it’s banking in 2007. The current banking at Bristol is 26-30 degree’s.
Bristol Motor Speedway bids for Fairground Speedway promoter position
Nearly 50 years later, Bristol Motor Speedway has come along to place a bid with the Metro for the role of Fairgrounds Speedwaypromoter. In their corner, SMI. Speedway Motorsports Inc is a publicly traded company. They are the giant with nearly 800 employee’s and $570 million in annual revenue.
The Speedway Motorsports Inc portfolio includes; Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, Sonoma Raceway, Texas Motor Speedway
“We can confirm that Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) has submitted a proposal to manage the historic Fairgrounds Speedway and would be honored to serve as its promoter,” Jerry Caldwell told the Tennessean.com.
Caldwell is the executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. He stated, “Bruton Smith, executive chairman, and Marcus Smith, chief executive officer, have a vision that the venue can again become a premier destination, and they have a solid reputation of creating world-class facilities.”
“If selected, the BMS team stands ready to work in collaboration with the city of Nashville to boost the fan experience, improve safety and produce iconic events at the Fairgrounds Speedway,” Caldwell stated. “We are confident that great success can be achieved for the racetrack while balancing the quality of life for its surrounding neighbors.”
Tony Formosa is in a battle to maintain control
Tony Formosa also placed a bid to lease the speedway.
Tony Formosa has been the promoter of Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville for the previous 7 years. He’s leased the track on a year-to-year basis.
However, he’s stated multiple times he would like a longer lease of the race track. Formosa would like a longer-term lease to justify upgrades. Understandably, it would be a difficult move to pump money into the track when there’s no guarantee you’ll return for the next season.
He would like to remain the promoter in 2018. However, that’s likely going to be an uphill battle.
Darrell Waltrip thinks a NASCAR return is possible for lower series
Franklin, Tennessee resident Darrell Waltip is grateful for all that Formosa has done. But, he’s excited to see what Speedway Motorsports Inc. can do.
“I want to preface everything by saying I’ve really thought Tony Formosa’s done an incredible job of keeping the fairgrounds active, of keeping events there, of keeping it still prominent as far sports venues go in Nashville,” Waltrip told Nate Rau of USA Today.
Waltrip continued, “He’s fought a good fight. But when you have someone like Speedway Motorsports, a company of that size with the experience they have and the connections they have, you can’t ignore that. I think that’s be a big plus for the fairgrounds to have somebody like that involved.”
I think fans are tired of the mile-and-halfs and the bigger racetracks.
Waltrip comments on the rise in short tracks, “It’s never really gone away, but I honestly think it’s due for a comeback,” he said. “I think fans are tired of the mile-and-halfs and the bigger racetracks. I think they see the value in a track like the fairgrounds. In my opinion, the fairgrounds is a diamond in the rough. It needs some work and improving.
“The Fair Board and whoever runs the racetrack need to work together in a partnership. But I believe there’s opportunity to bring a NASCAR series back, maybe even a Cup race if the track was upgraded to today’s standards.”
Darrell Waltrip is a two time track champion at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. The track hosted NASCAR races at one time. Waltrip won 5 of 6 NASCAR races at the track between 1981 and 1984. In that same period, Waltrip won 7 straight NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Author: Shane Walters