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Why Is the Newest Nashville Fairgrounds Proposal So Controversial?

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The Nashville Fairgrounds recently had a radical proposal that included tearing down the current race track for a complex that included an electric car drag strip. The proposal garnered a visceral negative reaction from race fans, but, why?

It Requires Tearing Down the Current Race Track

The Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway as it is currently known would be torn down under this new proposal. Racing fans in the area would lose a local short track that has a lot of history, and it would be a loss of a “Crown Jewel” for many late-model drivers. This would be lost in favor of an electric car drag strip, which, Darian Gilliam feels is not what the locals want, but, having multiple proposals is important for the public.

I think it’s pretty clear what the locals want and that’s for NASCAR to return, not glorified Tesla drag racing.

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Also based on the details of the proposal and who put it together I don’t see it getting too far. However, I feel it’s important for more of the public to know it’s out there to know there’s multiple proposals.

Darian Gilliam

As far as what the locals want, it depends on who you ask. Cumberland Yard, who is apparently behind this proposal cited a poll that claims 67% of Nashville residents favor their plan over the Bristol Motor Speedway plan, where only 21% favored it. Another poll reported by the Tennessean found that, while many residents did not hear of the deal, 67% of countywide voters and 72% in neighboring communities supported the Bristol Motor Speedway plan. So, which is true?

Jerry Caldwell of Bristol Motor Speedway also issued a statement. In it, he described the new proposal as, “In direct conflict with [the Speedway’s] intended public uses.”

Caldwell seems confident that the city’s support behind his proposal will win out. Now, there is a new mayor in Nashville, so, he will have to convince a new administration of his plan. Therefore, the city government’s support is not completely clear yet.

The Details are Somewhat Vague

The proposal was also quite vague in many aspects, and it has caused some to question whether or not it is legitimate. Cumberland Yard, which is the website that showcases the plan has very little information on the actual proposal.

However, Nate Rau and Adam Temburin of Axios were able to get the names of those behind it. They described the organization as a nonprofit called, “Fairground Preservation Partners”, with co-founders Mike Kopp, singer Ruby Amanfu, artist Carrie Tillis, and attorney Kenny Byrd. Rau and Temburin also mentioned advisors, “Saul Solomon, formerly Metro’s director of law, former school board member Will Pinkston, and Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association.” This is a very new and not well-known non-profit.

Joe Williams, known as the “Voice of the Fairgrounds”, gave his thoughts on the proposal. He seemed to indicate that this proposal may have never gotten off the ground.

I really thought I was reading something from the Onion or the Babylon Bee when I saw it. I thought it was comedic satire because, if they are serious, it is such an obvious attempt at a continuing land grab…My personal opinion is this thing is not only dead in the water, it never got wet.

Joe Williams

It’s definitely a more vague proposal. There is not a lot of information online on it, and Cumberland Yard only has a video and the aforementioned poll on their website. Kopp told Rau and Temburin that Nashville S.C. owner, John Ingram, is not involved whatsoever. Ingram has been one of the most vocal opponents of the Fairgrounds race track being renovated due to Nashville S.C.’s soccer stadium being next door.

Other Quotes

A couple of local drivers also gave their thoughts on the proposal to the Daily Downforce directly. Pro Late Model Driver Bryson Shaffer emphasized the history of the track itself.

“he track is a piece of Nashville history, it’s been there forever and it definitely deserves to stay in nashville. I got my start in racing at the quarter mile and a ton of other successful drivers have too. The track should 100% be a priority when talking about the future of Nashville

Bryson Shaffer

Tyler Cordell also gave his thoughts on the proposal. Cordell is a street stock racer.

This new proposal was mind blowing to me, but the same time I’m really not surprised. They are doing all they can do to take a speedway from us where there is so much history. In 2011 voters within Davidson County made it clear they do not want to see the Speedway go away. I really hope to see something positive happen soon in the direction of Nascar making the comeback to Nashville. As a local racer, I will do all I can to support the group that is working hard to make it happen.

Tyler Cordell

This specific Nashville Fairgrounds proposal has elicited quite a reaction from the fanbase. Will it actually happen, or will the track be revitalized like Bristol Motor Speedway and SMI hope it is?

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