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Nashville Opts Out Of NASCAR

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, August 3 2011

The owners of Nashville Superspeedway said they will not host NASCAR races next season. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Nashville – Dover Motorsports has announced it will seek no NASCAR races next year for Nashville Superspeedway and will “evaluate all options for the track, including its possible sale.”

The track, located in Gladeville, Tenn., 40 miles east of Nashville, has struggled with attendance since opening in 2001.

Should Dover sell the track, it is possible that the new owner could pursue future NASCAR races, although that failed to happen when Dover sold its tracks in Memphis and St. Louis. If the track is not sold, apparently it will be simply shut down.

Cliff Hawks, who has served as vice president/general manager of the track since it opened, said Wednesday:

“We have some extremely dedicated and talented employees who have made this track a great destination, but the reality is, after 10 years of effort, we have to face the fact that without a Sprint Cup race and/or a significant change in the operating model for other events, we simply cannot continue.”

Hawks will stay on for an unspecified period to “assist with transition issues.”

Denis McGlynn, President and CEO of Dover Motorsports, said in a statement:

“We deeply appreciate all the hard work that our employees have put into making Nashville Superspeedway such a remarkable facility. We have had years of unrelenting support from state, county and local officials and from the racing community. We are, however, at a juncture where we must evaluate all our options for this track, including its possible sale.”

The facility is situated on approximately 1,400 acres, and the track’s 1.3-mile concrete surface makes it unique on the NASCAR circuit. It is lighted for night racing and overall is considered a state-of-the-art facility. However, the racing has never been especially exciting and fans have not turned out as anticipated.

When the track opened it had 25,000 permanent grandstand seats and 25,000 temporary bleachers. When the inaugural event failed to sell out, most of the temporary bleachers were dismantled. Attendance has continued to decline, with perhaps 10,000 on hand for the last race on July 23.

“The track is simply not well-designed for NASCAR racing,” said Terrell Davis, editor of an area racing publication. “I know Dover had good intentions and Cliff and his people have worked as hard as they can, but the bottom line is, the racing hasn’t been very good and the fans know it.”

The track was dealt a major blow when the Indy Racing League severed its relationship following the 2008 season. For eight seasons (2001-08) the annual IRL race had been the track’s highlight event, with such star attractions as Danica Patrick and Helio Castroneves. The IRL races drew crowds of around 20,000.

Once the IRL departed, the track was left with only Nationwide and truck races – second- and third-tier NASCAR events. The past two seasons the Superspeedway hosted two weekend Nationwide/truck doubleheaders, neither of which drew well.

Most observers remain convinced that if the track could have landed a premier NASCAR Sprint Cup race it could have been a huge success. But as prospects of a Cup race faded over the years, so did the track’s future.

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

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, August 3 2011
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • Tammy Brewington says:

    While the down economy is putting a damper on many tracks and teams, and getting a Cup date is icing on the cake, other tracks have done well as stand alone tracks such as Kentucky and Iowa. They still fill the grandstands. People can say whatever they choose to say, but for me the bottom line is lack of promoting and marketing! There is no good reason a track right next to Music City USA couldn’t find a mere 25K fans to fill a grandstand! My brother lives near Chattanooga and he didn’t even know when the races were here at the superspeedway unless I told him. Dover is notorious for not supporting public relations teams and so-so with a great marketing plan. If one has a Cup date, and those are suffering too right now, the races basically self-sell because, well, it’s Cup, but to have a good showing at stand alone tracks one….MUST….have….a….PR….Marketing….plan! I’ve said it for years and I’ll always believe that!

  • Mr. Tony Geinzer says:

    I feel people need to support what Nashville does the Best:Short Track Racing and one day Sprint Cup will return to the Fairgrounds. Not because it is fancy, but, I feel NASCAR would be thrown in a corner to need Race Dates.

  • NotSurprised says:

    I am disappointed in this news, but am not surprised. Living in nearby Franklin, the drive out to Lebanon was still just not worth the effort to justify a single-event ticket.

    A few years back, the truck race was supported by ARCA, and for $25 one could catch Truck Qualy, ARCA race, and the Truck Race. These three events made for an enjoyable evening and a great value.

    The event that year also represented the last time I saw a competitive race. Scott Speed held a clinic in ARCA, and Johnny Benson fought back from a lost lap to take the Truck race.

    For me, the key to enjoyment was the addition of the support race… be it the aforementioned ARCA race, or the Infiniti/Indy Lights race that supported the IRL.

    Part of me wonders if a more interesting track would appear with a simple coating of asphalt?