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What Does the Nashville Sellout Mean for NASCAR in Nashville?

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Joshua Lipowski

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For the second time in three seasons, Nashville Superspeedway has sold out the grandstands for its’ NASCAR Cup Series race. With temporary grandstands being pulled in, capacity reaches close to 40,000.

Overall, what does this sellout mean for Nashville in the sport of NASCAR? And what does it look like in the context of other NASCAR race tracks.

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What Does it Mean for NASCAR in Nashville?

This is an interesting sellout given the context of NASCAR in Nashville. The race sold out during the inaugural season, but some logistical issues including traffic problems did dampen people’s spirits somewhat. Year two did not sell out, but year three has.

Matt Greci replaced Erik Moses as track president late in 2022, and the Cup Series event now being a night race could have played a role in how this next race has sold. However, it is still impressive to see how a new NASCAR event is continuing to sell tickets. It shows Nashville as a market where NASCAR can and is succeeding.

This also comes amidst Nashville considering a massive investment into one of the oldest race tracks in the country, the Nashville Fairgrounds. Now, just because Nashville Superspeedway sells out does not automatically mean that the Fairgrounds needs to come back, but it does show that there are race fans in Nashville.

These fans continue to show up whenever NASCAR comes to town. However, how does this race and this race track compare to other tracks in NASCAR and how they have sold tickets?

How Does This Sellout Compare to Other NASCAR Events?

NASCAR does not release attendance figures anymore, but there are places where we can estimate. Sellouts are not created equal across different race tracks. The Daytona 500 sold out this year with a capacity of 101,000 fans.

Other non crown-jewel races to sell out include Phoenix and World Wide Technology Raceway. The capacity of Phoenix sits at around 42,000, and, according to RacingNews.co, World Wide Technology Raceway’s capacity sits around 57,000 in the grandstands. This puts Nashville below both of these race tracks in terms of capacity.

Now, it is still comparable to other race tracks in terms of capacity, but what matters is optics. 40,000 people at Daytona looks totally different than 40,000 people at Nashville Superspeedway even though it is the same amount of people.

What Nashville, Phoenix, and Gateway represent are race tracks with stands constructed for the NASCAR crowds of today rather than the NASCAR crowds of the mid-2000s when 100,000+ fans were showing up to multiple races in a season. It’s tough to swallow for some, but that is the reality of NASCAR crowds.

Mike Forde of NASCAR went on to the NASCAR on NBC podcast and talked about the NASCAR schedule. In this podcast, he discussed what goes into creating the NASCAR schedule when asked about whether or not the schedule will be rebalanced heading into 2024.

When we look at the schedule, and Ben Kennedy lays it all out, there’s three different things we look at. One is, is the racing good…that’s a big part of it. Two, are those stands full. Three, are we serving the right market.

Mike Forde

Nashville absolutely hits parts two and three on the head. It is a race track that fills its grandstands and is serving a market that loves NASCAR. The racing product is a bit up in the air with year one particularly, but, given how the Next-Gen car has performed on 1.5 mile tracks, the trajectory should be pointing up.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the sellout of Nashville Superspeedway is a good thing for NASCAR. It is good publicity, and it highlights how good of a market that Nashville is for NASCAR. It fits where NASCAR is currently, and that is a good thing.

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Joshua Lipowski

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