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Marlin Interested In Nashville Track

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 14 2011

Sterling Marlin may be in market for a local race track. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

Retired NASCAR driver Sterling Marlin is interested in acquiring the lease to Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway, after fellow driver Bobby Hamilton Jr. gave up after one frustrating season.

Hamilton will not continue to operate the track next season, according to Buck Dozier, head of the Metro Fair Board that oversees the city-owned facility. Hamilton encountered numerous problems during the season and cancelled the scheduled season-finale All-American 400 – a fixture for over two decades and the track’s premier event.

Hamilton will continue to own and operate Highland Rim Speedway, a quarter-mile track located 20 miles north of Nashville.

One year remains on the two-year Fairgrounds Speedway lease granted by the city and Marlin heads a group of investors that is interested in acquiring it. Marlin told local radio show host Terrell Davis that he would like to take over the track “if everything can be worked out.”

There are reportedly some others who are interested in the track, despite its history of problems and major operational hurdles. Former track operator Gary Baker said it is “impossible” to successfully run the track with a one-year lease.

Baker believes a long-term lease – at least 10 years and preferably more – is necessary in order to make the capital investment necessary to upgrade the 54-year-old facility.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean favors demolishing the track which until 1984 hosted two annual NASCAR Cup races. Dean wants to re-develop the 114-acre Metro property, although he has presented no specific plan.

Marlin has assisted previous efforts to keep the track afloat, working with last year’s operator, Tony Formosa Jr., to promote the track. Marlin won three championships at the track in the 1980’s, following in the footsteps of his famous father, Coo Coo, a four-time champion in the 1960’s.

Sterling’s son Steadman and daughter Sutherlin raced at the track in the past. Marlin, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, competed in a limited schedule of races this past season.

He said his mission it to try to keep the track operating to give aspiring young drivers in the area an opportunity to hone their skills and possibly launch a major-league career as did he, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Hamilton Sr., Jeremy Mayfield, Casey Atwood, David Sisco, Jimmy Means, Jeff Green, Chad Chaffin, and dozens of others who went on to race in NASCAR’s top division over the years.

The Fair Board expects to make a decision about the track’s new operator by the end of the year.

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

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 14 2011
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