NASCAR Cup Series Returning to Nashville Superspeedway in 2021

LEBANON, TN - JULY 23: Carl Edwards, driver of the #60 Fastenal Ford, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville Superspeedway on July 23, 2011 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

In a hint to the dynamic changes that will be made to what many consider a stale NASCAR Cup series schedule next season NASCAR and Dover Motorsports Inc. announced Wednesday that Nashville Superspeedway will reopen to host a NASCAR Cup Series race in 2021.

The track, which is owned by Dover Motorsports Inc held Xfinity and Truck series for a decade from 2001 to 2011 along with IndyCar events.  It was closed at the end of the 2011 season. Dover Motorsports Inc. built the 1.33-mile concrete track in Lebanon, Tennessee, about a 40-minute drive from downtown Nashville in 2001. It is situated on just over 1,000 acres.

“Thanks to the collaboration of Dover Motorsports and our broadcast partners, we are excited to bring NASCAR racing back to Nashville, a place where the passion for our sport runs deep,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps said in a release. “The Nashville market is a vital one for our sport and bringing NASCAR Cup Series racing to Nashville Superspeedway will be an integral building block in helping us further deliver on our promise in creating a dynamic schedule for 2021.”

Previously, the Cup series ran at the old .596-mile Nashville Fairgrounds track from 1958 to 1984. The Xfinity and truck series raced there in 2000.

Dates for the new Nashville event and Dover’s race weekend were not announced however The Associated Press is reporting that the date will June 20 next year, and that Dover will lose one of its two dates.  NASCAR has raced at Dover since 1969 and has had two events since 1971.

The move follows NASCAR’s recent rekindling of its relationship with the Music City, which played host to the NASCAR Awards banquet and Champion’s Week activities last December.

Since its last NASCAR event in 2011, the Nashville Superspeedway has sat idle except for occasional rentals for stock-car driving experiences or for car storage by Nissan, which has an assembly plant located in nearby Smyrna, Tennessee. Panattoni Development Company purchased a 147-acre portion of the 1,250-acre speedway grounds in 2018 with plans to redevelop the land for industrial use. The group exercised an option to buy an additional 132 acres last June. Neither land parcel included the track or its seating.

The Fairgrounds board and Nashville city officials had been working on proposals to bring NASCAR racing back to the historic half-mile layout, with Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and parent company Speedway Motorsports, Inc., proposing a $60 million renovation plan and acting as go-betweens in negotiations. But disputes over how the property will be used for construction of a Major League Soccer stadium adjacent to the track have slowed progress on infrastructure plans and track improvements.

The track will get a makeover that will cost $8 to $10 million which will modernize the facility and boost capacity to somewhere between 25,000 to 50,000 fans.  The track will add a fulltime staff.

“Our company is excited about the terrific opportunity to not only host a NASCAR Cup Series race weekend but opening our Nashville facility will enable us to host other exciting forms of racing and entertainment options,” said Mike Tatoian, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Dover Motorsports, Inc. “We are also proud that our long history with NASCAR will continue at the Monster Mile in 2021, and we also look forward to hosting the 9th Firefly Music Festival next summer.”

Greg Engle