Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway reaches deal for NASCAR return

Mayor John Cooper details plan agreement with Speedway Motorsports Inc

Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway has stood for 117 years. The track last hosted a NASCAR Cup Series event in 1984 but the premier stock car series has remained absent from the legendary track since.

Now, a new deal has been reached between Mayor John Cooper and Speedway Motorsports Inc. The deal includes major upgrades to the facility surrounding the 0.596-mile short track.

“This partnership creates an economically viable future for our historic track, spurs hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, and completes the last unrenovated part of the Nashville Fairgrounds at no cost to the Metro General Fund,” said Mayor John Cooper.

Speedway Motorsports Inc through their Bristol Motor Speedway subsidiary has announced the plan to revitalize the complex.

“In keeping with the national profile that Nashville Soccer Club is bringing to the Fairgrounds in 2022, this innovative partnership will bring our historic speedway back to life as a crown jewel in the world of motor sports,” said Mayor Cooper. “No other city has professional soccer and NASCAR side by side. Our Fairgrounds will be a unique asset for Nashville’s future. I look forward to working with Bristol, the State of Tennessee, the Fair Board, the Sports Authority and the Council on this proposal.”

Related: Home owners near Nashville incorrectly state, “There are 5 perfectly operating F1 and NASCAR tracks that are available 20-30 minutes outside Nashville.”

Deal Proposed

-Bristol Motor Speedway would lease, manage and operate track for a 30-year term while the complex remains city-owned.

-Metro Sports Authority would issue 30-year bonds to finance the speedway.

-Revenue from rent payments, user fees via tickets and sponsorship revenue would help fund renovations.

-The speedway will be renovated at no cost to the Metro General Fund.

-Slate of NASCAR series and other major races.

-Racing and non-racing events estimate $100 annually in economic activity per Tourism Economics.

-A new sound barrier wall would be installed to limit sound for the nearby homes.

-Practice rentals would be reduced to just 20 days.

-Proposal includes a “guaranteed maximum price” to limit surprise construction costs.

Related: Nashville Fair Board claims breech of contract with Formosa family

Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville renovation project
Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville renovation project rendering submitted in May 2019 by Speedway Motorsports Inc

Next steps

While the Mayor and SMI have reached a deal, it still needs to pass through several parties.

An independent sports finance consultant is currently reviewing the finances of the proposed plan. If it passes the consultant, the plan will be presented to the Board of Fair Commissioners.

Before submitting to the the Board of Fair Commissioners, two board seats will need to be filled. Mayor Cooper is currently working to fill the fair board.

Once the deal passes the Fair Board it will then be submitted to the Sports Authority and the Metropolitan Council with related legislation.

“I grew up going to the Fairgrounds Speedway with my dad on Friday nights, listening to him work as a spotter for racers like Andy Kirby and Steadman Marlin. It would be my honor to sponsor legislation that brings NASCAR back to Nashville and restores the track into something that our whole county can be proud of again,” said Zach Young, District 10 Metro Council member.

“The historic Fairgrounds Speedway is one of Nashville’s unique entertainment assets and deserves an opportunity to rekindle its great reputation,” said Butch Spyridon, president and chief executive officer of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “The relationship with BMS is an incredible opportunity to restore this track and bring top tier racing back to Nashville.”

Related: North Wilkesboro Speedway construction begins

Speedway Motorsports Inc comments

Marcus Smith is the president and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports and Bristol Motor 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,” said Marcus Smith.

Smith added, “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.”

Jerry Caldwell is the general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, another Tennessee track.

“Once the renovations are complete, Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway will be a new destination for motorsports and entertainment. We’ll operate to maximize event opportunities while mitigating the impact on area residents. Our goal is to create something that Nashville and the surrounding community can be proud of,” Jerry Caldwell said.

The announcement has drivers excited, past and present. Dale Earnhardt Jr was included in the official release of the plan.

“I still remember the first time I came to the Fairgrounds to race. I fell in love with the place after the first lap,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. “Nashville Fairgrounds is a historic and iconic venue, and Bristol Motor Speedway is the very best partner to continue that storied history. I’m looking forward to witnessing the next chapter in the life of this historic landmark.”

Related: Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jimmie Johnson will exit NASCAR retirement to race Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville


Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville | Speedway Motorsports Inc | Bristol Motor Speedway | NASCAR