Thursday, December 20, 2018

NASCAR is headed back to the Fairground! Speedway Motersports struck a deal with Formosa. Other obstetricals remain to be resolved.

by Rod Williams - The Tennessean reports this morning that Speedway Motorsports has struck a deal the fairgrounds racetrack operator Tony Formosa that paves the way for the return of NASCAR to the fairgrounds. While there are still some details to work out and while the deal must be approved by the Fair Board, this is significant.  It is reported that Tony Formosa would continue to offer eight races a year at the fairgrounds.

It is not known what kind of improvements would have to be made to the historic track to meet NASCAR standards or who would pay for them.  There is already approved $1.7 million for track improvements by Metro, but that would not be sufficient to upgrade the track to the desired level.  For years the city has ignored the track hoping, many believe, that if would eventually deteriorate so badly that it would be prohibitively expensive to continue offering racing at the track. If Speedway Motorsports is granted a long-term lease, there is speculation they would pay for the upgrades.  Speedway Motorsports is one of he largest owners of NASCAR tracks in the country including Bristol Speedway.

Opposition to the track centers around noise complaints.  When races are going on they can be heard miles away. I live very near the track and think the noise complaints are exaggerated. Some people just love to complain.  Currently the number of races permitted at the track are capped at ten per year.  One can expect that some will fight to keep the ten-race cap.  It is unknown how many races would have to occur at the track for the deal to be viable.  In addition to noise, I am convinced that there are those who want to demolish the track because it does not fit the image they would like for a progressive Nashville.  There are those who seem embarrassed by anything that smacks of  Nashville's old identity.  They seem to be embarrassed by gun and knife shows, flea markets, country music and stock car racing. Former Mayor Karl Dean tried to have the track destroyed as part of his plan to sell off the fairgrounds property to private developers.

If the return of NASCAR is successful, much of he credit must go to Councilman Robert Swope. Speedway Motorsports had expressed an interest in the racetrack a long time ago, but city officials would not give them the time of day or even return their calls.  Swope got involved and made the city entertain proposals from Motorsports and he got Formosa and Speedway Motorsports negotiating.  For more on how Swope got us to this point, follow this link. Unfortunately, The Tennessean does not even mention Swope's name in their article.

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