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Memphis Blues: Track Shuts Down

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 30 2009
The music has come to a stop in Memphis. (NASCAR file photo)

The music has come to a stop in Memphis. (NASCAR file photo)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer

Nashville – Dover Motorsports’ surprise announcement on Friday that it is closing Memphis Motorsports Park was bittersweet news for Cliff Hawks.

Hawks is VP/GM of Nashville Superspeedway  – another Dover facility – which will inherit the 2010 NASCAR truck race that had been scheduled at Memphis. While the Nashville track can use the extra business, Hawks said it was a “sad” way to get a race.

“It’s sad to see Memphis taken off the race schedule,” he said. “We had a close working relationship with the folks over there. We will move forward to promote the race and made it a successful part of our schedule next year.”

The truck race will be run on April 2 in conjunction with Nashville’s April 3 Nationwide Series race. The track already had a Camping World Series truck race scheduled for Aug. 7 and Hawks said that race will remain unchanged.

The track, which celebrates its 10th anniversary next year, also has a second Nationwide race later in the spring.

Dover Motorsports earlier had reached an agreement to sell the Memphis facility to Gulf Coast Entertainment, which would continue to run the NASCAR races, but that deal fell through when GCE was unable to secure financing.

Dover, unable to sell the track, decided to close it.

“This was a difficult decision for us, but one that ultimately was dictated by economics,” said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports. “We greatly appreciate the many years of dedication shown by our Memphis employees and their efforts to make Memphis such a great racing destination. For all concerned, it is truly sad to see Memphis Motorsports Park taken off the racing schedule.”

In addition to moving Memphis’ truck race to Nashville, the track’s Oct. 23 Nationwide Series race will be shuffled to Gateway International Raceway.

The Memphis track is the second major Tennessee racing venue to close this month. Earlier Nashville mayor Karl Dean announced that the city-owned Fairgrounds Speedway will be closed next year. The 51-year-old track’s final race is the Nov. 20-22 All-American 400 (originally scheduled this weekend but moved back due to a forecast of rain.)

“I hate to see it,” said Sterling Marlin, who got his start at the Fairgrounds as a teenager and went on to win two Daytona 500s. “All the tracks are closing. I don’t know where young drivers who are just starting out are going to find a place to race.”

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 30 2009