Nashville, Tenn. Mayor John Cooper has agreed in principle to a proposal by Bristol Motor Speedway to revitalize the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and bring NASCAR Cup Series racing back to the historic speedway near the city's downtown area. The proposal would allow Bristol Motor Speedway to lease, manage and operate the speedway while also revitalizing it at no cost to the city's Metro General Fund.
Bristol's proposal, which follows a letter of intent signed in March, will result in "a modernized track that meets NASCAR series standards and transform Fairgrounds Speedway into a true multipurpose venue that can also host non-racing, revenue-generating events."
The Speedway, which hosted NASCAR Cup Series races from 1958 to 1984, currently hosts local racing programs and also hosted ARCA Menards Series and Camping World SRX Series events this past year.
The proposal, which also includes the installation of sound mitigation components and the reduction of track practice rentals in response to noise and quality of life concerns raised by citizens, is now subject to approval by the Board of Fair Commissioners and Metropolitan Council.
Plans to modernize the Speedway coincide with other recent renovations at the Fairgrounds, which include the construction of a stadium for Nashville Soccer Club of MLS.
"In keeping with the national profile that Nashville Soccer Club is bringing to the Fairgrounds in 2022, this innovative partnership will bring our historic speedway back to life as a crown jewel in the world of motor sports," read a statement by Mayor Cooper. "No other city has professional soccer and NASCAR side by side. Our Fairgrounds will be a unique asset for Nashville's future. I look forward to working with Bristol, the State of Tennessee, the Fair Board, the Sports Authority and the Council on this proposal."
The prospect of NASCAR's return to the Fairgrounds has become the centerpiece of a racing renaissance in the area, which has unfolded over a 10-year period since the Fairgrounds Speedway was saved from demolition by a grassroots effort to preserve the second-oldest operating racetrack in the United States. While NASCAR's official return to racing in Nashville, Tenn. came this past June at the Nashville Superspeedway in nearby Lebanon, Tenn., the Fairgrounds has remained a major sticking point thanks to its long and storied history and support from racing figures such as Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, whose track champions include Darrell Waltrip, Sterling Marlin and Bobby Hamilton among others, last hosted NASCAR races in 2000 for what are now the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series.