Nov 17, 2021 - Sports

NASCAR giant corners Nashville's racing market

race car drives on track with sun shining above

Kyle Larson drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway in June. Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Speedway Motorsports Inc.'s acquisition of the Nashville Superspeedway in Wilson County gives the company momentum heading into the final stretch of its negotiations with Nashville Mayor John Cooper over renovating the fairgrounds racetrack.

Why it matters: The $131 million deal sets the stage for NASCAR to return to the fairgrounds track.

What’s happening: Bristol Motorsports, a division of SMI, and Cooper signed a letter of intent in March to renovate the 117-year-old fairgrounds racetrack.

Renovations are a prerequisite for NASCAR's return to Nashville. The top series hasn't raced at the fairgrounds since 1984 and the last lower-level series race was in 2000.

  • Nashville displayed its appetite for more top-level auto racing with the excellent turnout earlier this year for the IndyCar Music City Grand Prix, which drew 110,000 fans.

What they're saying: Norm Partin, a veteran motorsports executive, tells Axios there are two factors making it favorable for NASCAR to return to the fairgrounds on the heels of SMI's Wilson County deal.

  • "There is a move to more short-track racing like they have at the fairgrounds," Partin says. "Once the deal goes through, SMI will operate 10 racetracks and control 15 NASCAR Cup series dates. So that makes it easier to make one of those races at the fairgrounds."

Yes, but: If Cooper and Bristol strike a deal, the devil will be in the details. Neighbors are worried about the impact of auto racing on noise and traffic.

Bristol released a study earlier this year showing its sound wall and other mitigation measures will greatly reduce sound.


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