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The Fairgrounds or the Superspeedway? NASCAR’s Nashville Conundrum

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One thing can be said after this weekend’s race at Nashville Superspeedway, NASCAR belongs in Nashville. It’s a market that supports NASCAR, and NASCAR fits well within the market. However, a problem, albeit a good problem, could arise soon.

With the help of Bristol Motor Speedway, the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway could be on the cusp of a major renovation. IF the Fairgrounds finds a way to get the renovation through all the political hoops it needs to, then where should NASCAR go? Should it stay at Nashville Superspeedway or go to the Nashville Fairgrounds?

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The Case for Nashville Superspeedway

Nashville Superspeedway has two major advantages over the Nashville Fairgrounds. The first being seating capacity and the second being overall racing product.

Nashville Superspeedway, including temporary grandstands, can hold almost 40,000 people. Which is pretty on par with current NASCAR crowds. It has sold out two times out of the three Cup Series races held at the track. On top of that, the track’s fairly remote location allows for the potential to easily expand the grandstands if that becomes absolutely necessary.

The most recent Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway capacity estimate for the renovations is around 30,000. Add to that a smaller race track means less campgrounds, so there is lower capacity there as well.

As for the racing product, after a forgettable inaugural race with the Gen-6 car in 2021, the races have gradually gotten better at Nashville Superspeedway over the last couple of years. The Next-Gen car’s biggest strong suit is intermediate race tracks, which Nashville Superspeedway definitely is.

The concrete racing surface also allows for a wide groove, meaning multiple lines for drivers to run in. Sure, dirty air does play a factor, but the racing is fun to watch at the Superspeedway.

The Fairgrounds, on the other hand, is a short track. Short track racing with the Next-Gen car has been underwhelming to many fans. Adding another short track to the schedule means another race at a track-type that the Next-Gen car just does not race well yet, at least for now.

Even though Nashville Superspeedway has it’s benefits, it also has it’s detractors. All of these being detractors that are strengths of the Nashville Fairgrounds.

The Case for the Nashville Fairgrounds

The Nashville Fairgrounds major strengths are both the track’s location and its history. Both departments that Nashville Superspeedway lacks.

Whereas the Nashville Superspeedway is in the suburb of Lebanon, Tennessee, about 40 miles or so outside of Nashville proper, the Nashville Fairgrounds is in the city of Nashville. While not in downtown Nashville, the Fairgrounds Speedway sits right by three major highways, I-65, U.S. Route 31, and I-440.

NASCAR has made a recent push to move the sport closer to the people in recent years. There’s a reason that they held the season-opening Clash at the L.A. Coliseum. There’s a reason why NASCAR is holding a race on the Streets of Chicago this coming weekend.

NASCAR for years has had their race tracks well outside of the city that they name their tracks after, and that is seeming to change. The Fairgrounds better fits that general movement of the sport.

The Nashville Fairgrounds also has the historical significance that Nashville Superspeedway generally lacks. The Fairgrounds hosted NASCAR’s top series every year from 1958 until 1984. Nashville Superspeedway had an almost decade long period where the track was dormant.

Even while the Fairgrounds was not hosting NASCAR’s top series, its weekly racing schedule has kept the track afloat over the past nearly four decades. It is a track that has a dedicated fanbase, and people are intrigued to see the track potentially back on the schedule.

Conclusion

What will or should NASCAR do? Well, it all depends on how the Nashville Fairgrounds renovation project goes. If it goes through, then NASCAR needs to start considering it.

NASCAR going to a Fairgrounds is not and should not be a slam dunk, however. That being said, if the track is renovated, there is no reason it should not have a place in NASCAR in some capacity. Even if that is not a full Cup Series points race weekend.

Maybe a standalone Xfinity Series/Truck Series weekend could be fun? Maybe NASCAR could host it’s All-Star Race there if North Wilkesboro becomes a points race. There are a lot of possibilities, but the bottom line is that NASCAR in Nashville is here to stay for years to come.

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Joshua Lipowski

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