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Minter: Stand-Alone Tracks Destined To Fall

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 4 2011

Nashville Superspeedway had as many people in the pits as in the grandstands during the July Camping World Trucks race. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Erik J. Perel)

When the news broke that Nashville Superspeedway wouldn’t be seeking sanctions for NASCAR’s Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series races next year, it wasn’t much of a surprise. There have been better crowds for dirt Late Model races than what Nashville

pulled in recent races.

But there’s still a great sense of sadness, for the track and for the sport as a whole.

The Nashville news comes on the heels of word that Lucas Oil Raceway is losing its Nationwide race to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And it hasn’t been that long that Dover Motorsports, which owned the Nashville track, closed two others, in Memphis and St. Louis.

And then there’s Pike’s Peak, Nazareth, the Milwaukee Mile, Mansfield Motorsports Park and a host of others that once hosted races for trucks or Nationwide cars but dropped off the circuit.

The obvious conclusion is that in NASCAR, if it’s not a Sprint Cup race, it won’t work in the long run.

Stand-alone races for truck and Nationwide races won’t draw profitable crowds unless it’s a

Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis has gone dark. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

track like Kentucky or Iowa that’s making a bid to snag a Cup race. Stand-alone road course races do seem to work, but it could be that those tracks also are making subtle bids for Cup dates.

If this trend continues, how can the sport stay strong if there’s only one major NASCAR circuit that succeeds?

The track in Nashville was built for a Cup race. The infrastructure is in place to quickly expand the seating to 150,000 and add another garage area. But the fans in Nashville never seemed to support the track. Their hearts always seemed to be across town at the old Fairgrounds track, the one that once hosted two Cup races a year.

The current trend is to add the second- and third-tier series to a Cup weekend.

But it may be time for some fresh thinking in the sport.

Here’s an idea. How about running an occasional midweek Cup race at a place like Nashville or Memphis, or even Rockingham or North Wilkesboro?

The races would need to be points-paying one-day shows, with practice, qualifying, an autograph session and a 250-mile race run under the lights. It seems reasonable to assume that a TV deal could be secured for “Monday Madness” or “Wild Wednesday” or “Thursday Thunder.” And surely fans would turn out at a place like Lucas Oil Raceway or Nashville or Rockingham or even Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway to watch a Cup race.

It would have to be of more interest than additional installments of “Cup Lite” and it could inject some excitement into a sport that just ran the Brickyard 400 in front of a half-empty grandstand.

Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, August 4 2011
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • Mr. Tony Geinzer says:

    Rick, I am heartbroke over Nashville, and I am wanting Mobile or Irwindale to offer a Nationwide-Trucks DH like Texas as I feel angry that why not do Knoxville the Same Week as Newton and try to offer us regular folk good events, not Kyle being a Kyle!

  • Tammy Brewington says:

    Very sad day for me yesterday. I worked there for so many years and was at the inaugural events and we had such high hopes back then…what a shame!

  • Terry says:

    Nashville …Memphis….N Wilksboro…Rockingham….are middle….
    Middle is now out of date…in business…polotics….and society
    Go big…..on go little…..that’s the business world today.
    Small niche……or big boy on the block…..
    no ” middle class any more ”
    It is Southwest…..or American……no Braniff or PSA or Southern…
    Ford Chevy use to be the cheap now they are stuck in the middle.
    Cheapfor poor fans…Smokey Mtn….or ..
    Lakeside KCMO ( when not actually a lake like now )…have a niche.
    Soon we will all be to poor for Bristol
    or Michigan…..or even…Homestead
    We’ll beat a 3 bathroom mudhole local track….and
    no I don’t mean Kentucky.