When a Nashville Fair Board commissioner said during a meeting this week that “there’s not going to be a NASCAR race at the [Nashville Fairgrounds] Speedway in 2022,” it essentially confirmed that the NASCAR Cup Series will not add a new short track to its schedule for the 52nd consecutive season.
I realized I’m pounding this drum on a nearly biweekly basis now and that that drum is starting to turn into a dead horse, but it would be completely unacceptable for NASCAR to not add a new short track next year. It was unacceptable for them to not have any short tracks this year or especially in 2020.
Last year, with all of the COVID-19 restrictions and there not being any crowds at races when NASCAR returned, the Cup Series could’ve raced at any local short track in the region. Of course it had to honor the agreements with Speedway Motorsports, Inc., Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Dover International Speedway, but NASCAR owns the other half of the tracks.
It’s not going to sue itself if the tour doesn’t honor one of its track agreements.
Over the past year, NASCAR has overcome so many obstacles and has proven that if it wants to get something done, then it will … except when it comes to more short track racing. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten is that if someone wants to see you, they will make time for you.
The same applies to NASCAR and short tracks: if the racing series truly wanted more short tracks, it would’ve added one in the last 50 years. Instead, it’s gradually reduced the number of short track races from 25 to five.
Of course there will be one new short track come 2023 due to the transformation of Auto Club Speedway from its current 2-mile oval to a half-mile bullring. But that addition is canceled out thanks to the loss of one race on Bristol Motor Speedway’s concrete surface.
What irks me the most is the reasoning as to why the Fairgrounds won’t work out for next year. Jason Bergeron, the Fair Board commissioner, said that, “There’s no way that construction of basically an entirely brand new speedway facility is going to be complete between late summer 2021 and in time for 2022.”
I’ve never been to the Fairgrounds, and I’m not entirely sure what all would need to be done to get it ready for NASCAR. But it’s a racetrack that is already operational for weekly racing. You can’t tell me it would take over a year to get it ready for NASCAR.
In 1988, Richmond Raceway’s half-mile facility was demolished and rebuilt as its current three-quarter-mile configuration. That entire remodel was done between the racetrack’s spring and fall events that year.
That was 33 years ago, so surely the technology is even better today to pull off a feat like that even quicker.
The difference, though, is that Richmond is privately owned, while the Fairgrounds is owned by the community and has to go through all these government channels to get anything done. And of course, government paperwork and bureaucracy slows everything down.
Which leads to the most disturbing part of why we won’t get NASCAR racing at the Fairgrounds in 2022, and though SMI is still trying to make it happen, maybe not ever. The neighborhood next to the track doesn’t want racing there!
“I want the board to know I had not anticipated how negative the public response would be on this,” Bergeron said. “For all the emails we all get from somebody, I’m getting 10 times that many calls and emails and texts from people who I’ve never talked about the Fairgrounds with, neighbors I know who are furious. Furious. I had not anticipated the amount of fury that would come from the public on this presentation. That’s really driving my concern that we need to have more robust public engagement after we have the full details of the plan presented.”
How can anyone have the nerve and self-entitlement to move next to a racetrack and get mad that there are cars on it making noise?
What’s next for these people? Will they move next to a railroad and complain about how loud trains are until it gets shut down? Will they move next to an airport and complain about how loud planes are?
I understand not every race track is a gem and not every person is a racing fan.
However, if your housing/apartment complex built in 2011 is just a little too close to a track built in the mid 1900’s, that’s just tough toots.
Maybe you should’ve not rented there. Cry about it.
— Ryan Vargas (@RyanVargas_23) April 14, 2021
If you don’t like living next to a racetrack, then do everything in your power to get NASCAR to come there so that the land value will go up and you can sell your place and move.
NASCAR would only be there for one weekend, and it would likely lead to less on-track events such as testing taking place the rest of the year at the track. The residents there would only have to suffer through one weekend to have so many more things get better there.
Plus, during that weekend, those home owners can make bank by charging an arm and leg for race fans to park on their property. Just ask the church next to Bristol how much of its budget comes from race-weekend parking.
And part of the SMI deal to bring in NASCAR would likely include renovations that help with noise reduction. NASCAR and SMI do a good job at blocking the noise outside of racetracks. You can still hear the cars of course, but it’s not ear-splitting.
If local residents think races at the Fairgrounds are loud, they are in for it this summer when the NTT IndyCar Series has a race through the streets of downtown Nashville. Those cars are much louder and whinier, and they won’t have walls and grandstands blocking the sound.
To any of the complainers living in the neighborhood next to the track who are reading this article, please let us know your logic on this. Because I simply cannot understand why having NASCAR there would be such a bad thing.
Anyways, as long as there’s a 10:1 ratio of locals who oppose the track, I don’t see racing there happening anytime soon. So NASCAR needs to find another short track.
Please, NASCAR. You saw how phenomenal the racing at Martinsville Speedway was this past weekend and how much drama ensued afterward.
Did we see any of that at any of the intermediate or road course races so far this year?
Please give us one new short track in 2022 in addition to the Auto Club project. Let’s end that 51-year drought.
About the author
Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.
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