Speedway Motorsports still working toward Nashville Fairgrounds renovation

Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith(far left) and BMS vice president Jerry Caldwell(second from right) met with leaders in Nashville(Photo: @ltgovmcnally on Twitter)

The saga of the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville continues as representatives from Speedway Motorsports met earlier this week with government officials in the Tennessee state capital to discuss the auto racing venue’s future. This comes as the Metro Board of Fair Commissioners is urging Mayor John Cooper to move forward with the Major League Soccer stadium and to “decouple” talks with racing at Fairgrounds Nashville.

On Tuesday the Fair Board voted unanimously to write a formal letter to encourage Cooper to follow through on the already approved $335 million soccer stadium.

“We’ve got to get this done,” Fair Board Commissioner Jason Bergeron said. “We went through a very public MLS process, the council approved it and the (fair board) approved it multiple times.”

According to Bergeron, the deal to build the stadium near the site of the historic track that once hosted NASCAR Cup Series events should not be held up because of the proposal made by Speedway Motorsports. He claims that the race track operator which owns Charlotte Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway(among others) has shown no progress regarding its $60 million pitch to renovate the racing facility.

The hope of Speedway Motorsports and many racing enthusiasts in the middle Tennessee area is that NASCAR would return to the .596-mile track if a facility upgrade were to be carried out.

In recent years the track, which still hosts the prestigious All-American 400 race for Super Late Model cars, has been operated by Formosa Productions. That company had an agreement with SMI allowing the giant company to develop a renovation plan. However, Formosa lost its right to operate the facility last year due to failure to make regular payments. At that time, SMI called in veteran track operator Bob Sargent and his Track Enterprises organization to serve as the track’s promoter for the 2020 season.

Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith and Bristol Motor Speedway vice-president Jerry Caldwell visited the city on Monday to speak with city and state officials regarding the future of the Nashville Fairgrounds and to urge those leaders to consider their renovation plan.

Bristol Motor Speedway’s Twitter account(@BMSupdates) posted the following message on Tuesday afternoon:

Smith then took to the social media site on his own account@MarcusSMI) to add:

“Hey Nashville, let’s do both! #NashvilleFairgrounds”

Smith’s statement is no doubt referring to the SMI plan to have the soccer stadium be built near the track while SMI develops the speedway.

It looks as if there may still be some hope for the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway to remain as a race track but it also appears as if there is much still to be decided.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association

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