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Music City Grand Prix
A mock-up of what Indy cars will look like at the planned Music City Grand Prix circuit in Nashville (courtesy of the Music City Grand Prix press kit)

IndyCar’s Music City Grand Prix Is Racing Over A River

The rumors have been confirmed: the NTT IndyCar Series is hitting the streets of Nashville for a brand-new event in 2021 and beyond called the Music City Grand Prix. Nashville will join the likes of St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Detroit, and Toronto as part of the series’ street circuit discipline.

The inaugural race is expected to take place in August 6-8 of 2021 on a 2.17-mile circuit that would run through downtown, border the Cumberland River, across the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, and cut through the Nissan Stadium parking lot. A track map is available on the track’s website.

It will make IndyCar the only major racing series to cross a body of water, and that’s not the only different thing about this event.

Nissan Stadium will provide part of the hospitality setup for the event, something incredibly unique in the IndyCar Series.

The track will contain 11 turns with an approximate top speed of 200 mph as a result of 0.67-mile long straightaways. The Nissan Stadium parking lot will hold the paddock.

“We couldn’t be more excited about being here. I think it’s a perfect fit,” IndyCar series CEO Mark Miles said during a press conference this week. “IndyCar is young, it’s fast, it’s exciting… street races are a big part of what we do. They provide great branding and great international exposure to the cities. And they’re much more than races. It’s a festival.”

Indeed, the current plan is to transform the race into both a music festival weekend packed with great food and excitement.

Defending IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden is a native of Tennessee and was incredibly excited to be driving in his own backyard.

“I can speak for all the IndyCar drivers and tell you that this is going to be the number one destination outside of the Indy 500 next year,” he enthused. “Every driver I’ve spoken to, they want to come to Nashville, and they want to succeed.

“I’m so excited and so proud to be from Nashville,” he added. “I never dreamed of being able to drive with Team Penske in the IndyCar series and to race in my hometown.”

Why does he think Nashville is so perfect for IndyCa?

“Nashville is an event town. It doesn’t matter what event it is: we’re showing up and ready to party,” Newgarden explained. “When you think about IndyCar racing, especially on a street circuit, you don’t want to miss it. [Nashville] will support it like nothing else.”

Butch Spyridon, President and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, noted that the race has been a long time coming. There have been multiple other attempts at track negotiations that just haven’t worked out. This one, Spyridon said, just felt “right.”

The race will be fully funded by the Music City Grand Prix. It is expected that the track will be able to host fans after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next race on the 2020 IndyCar schedule is the 2020 IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix Race 1 on Oct. 02 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. TV information is TBA.

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About Elizabeth Blackstock

Elizabeth Blackstock
Elizabeth Blackstock is lead IndyCar writer for Frontstretch, a freelance journalist, and a novelist. She earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Texas at Austin and is currently pursuing a dual MFA/MA degree at Arcadia University. She is in love with her car, a 2013 Mazda 2.