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Woody: ‘Start-And-Bark’ Funny, Turnout Not

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 23 2011

The race at Nashville went well for Austin Dillon but his post-victory slide through the infield grass did not. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Erik J. Perel)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Gladeville, Tenn. – Friday afternoon’s truck race practice at Nashville Superspeedway was interrupted when a dog trotted onto the track.

The meddling mutt was identified as a “one-eyed beagle” and according to one Media Center wag he turned some impressive lap times before being black-flagged for failing to pass pre-race inspection.

It was suggested that because of the short field (only 34 trucks) the hound should have been allowed to race. But he probably would have been just a start-and-bark entry.

What was less amusing was the scene in the grandstands. The “official attendance” was listed at 11,000 but most estimates put the crowd at 2,500-3,000.

The Dover-owned track is winding up its 11th season and has struggled with attendance since its inception. After its first race, some 20,000 temporary bleachers were dismantled, leaving the track with approximately 25,000 permanent seats. It has yet to sell out.

Ticket prices were reduced for the weekend’s Camping World Truck Series/Nationwide Series doubleheader but sales remained slow.

Dover closed its tracks in Memphis and St. Louis because of poor turnout.

Nevertheless, track GM/VP Cliff Hawks remains optimistic about the Superspeedway’s future and said “as far as I know” it will continue to host NASCAR truck and Nationwide races next season.

Austin Dillon won Friday night’s race and afterwards tried to do a “victory slide” in the track infield. He jolted to an abrupt, painful-looking halt in the dry grass.

“I wanted to do something cool,” joked Dillon, who beat Johnny Sauter by 3.9 seconds, “but I need to work on my landing.”

Dillon, whose truck carries the No. 3 made famous by Dale Earnhardt during his driving days for grandpa Richard Childress, said he received a congratulatory call from his grandfather during the victory celebration. Childress watched the race on ESPN from his home in North Carolina.

“He just told me, ‘Great job, go celebrate,’” Dillon said.

Third-place Timothy Peters got his start driving for the late Bobby Hamilton Sr. whose since-folded team was based in nearby Mt. Juliet.

“Coming back here always brings back a lot of great memories of Bobby and the team,” said Peters who now resides in North Carolina. “My wife and I flew into the Smyrna airport where Bobby and I used to fly in and out of. We drove around Mt. Juliet and past the house we used to live in. I wish I could have won the race and made it a perfect trip.”

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

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 23 2011
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • JR says:

    Larry, I think a good subject for an article would be to get the honest, unvarnished comments from the drivers of all three divisions (cup, grand national and truck)regarding the turn-out for their events. Without TV coverage, I would bet most who call themselves “race fans” would be hard pressed to name more than a couple of drivers in the truck series. That number might go up to three for the grand national series regulars. As for cup drivers, the ones doing all the commercials would be the only ones known outside the small and shrinking world of NASCAR. But it would be very enlightening to hear how the drivers feel about performing before such a minuscule turnout.

  • Jim says:

    Those grandstands did look extremely empty Friday night. Saturday wasn’t much better. Obviously the Trucks don’t draw like the Nationwide series does, but when you have a turnout like that, you need to figure out why and fix things. Yeah, it was hot, and yeah, the economy still sucks, but c’mon. Do they not promote locally? are they charging too much at the gate and for parking? Are they using the same concessionaires that Kentucky Speedway uses? What’ up?

  • Sue Rarick says:

    Part of the problem with attendance is that many people here in Nashville not only remember the old Fairgrounds, but the fact that the Fairgrounds still holds races.

    And given the choice of regional wheel to wheel, bumber to bumper regional racing to cookie cutter track racing, prefer the first. Also I can go to the old Fairgrounds and see some really great racing all season for the price of a single weekend at the Speedway.

    Add to all this the fact that the best musicians in the world call Nashville their home and on any given weekend some of the musicians people pay hundreds of dollars to see will be jamming at any number of clubs in towm. As a friend visiting once said, “A jam session in Nashville has better music than most concerts paid for in the rest of the world.”