As Nashville leaders eye NASCAR's return to Fairgrounds, neighbors worry about race impacts

AM HILT FAIR BOARD AND NASCAR PKG.transfer_frame_1578.jpeg
Posted at 6:36 AM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 08:37:27-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After decades away from the Nashville Fairgrounds, a new deal could put NASCAR on track to return to the speedway.

Last week, Mayor John Cooper signed a letter of intent with Bristol Motor Speedways to renovate the Fairgrounds Racetrack. Metro leaders hope the partnership with the racing company could help bring NASCAR races back to the track, which has fallen into disrepair over the years. As part of the agreement, Metro would "issue no more than $50 million in bonds for racetrack renovations, as is already specified in the Capital Improvements Budget."

In a tweet, Cooper said the agreement could put the Nashville Speedway on the national stage, but at this week's virtual Fair Board meeting, people living near the track drove a different tone.

"That will make this area unlivable," one caller said. "NASCAR cars hit about 140 decibels and that's going to echo throughout our community."

"The level of noise that's going to be coming from these cars is like having an airport right next to your house," another neighbor, who lives about a half a mile from the Fairgrounds, said.

Right now, the number of the races on the track are limited. Several people who live in the area worry renovations could lead to more races and constant noise in the community.

"I think the last I saw I had about 20, 30 emails," Fair Commissioners Board Chairman Erin McAnally said. "We heard concerns about sound, which is always a concern with the racetrack and with good reason, it's very loud."

McAnally said those concerns are expected, and even though the potential partnership is exciting, the letter of intent is far from final.

"It's exciting because its been something that's been talked about for a long time and this essentially opens the door to be able to really talk about it," she said.

Those discussions will come in a series of community meetings about the agreement that will be similar to the ones that led up to the now-under-construction MLS stadium. McAnally says those meetings will be where the rubber will meet the road.

"We have to make sure that it works for the neighborhood, we have to make sure that it works for the city as a whole, we have to make sure that it works for the fairgrounds, there are a lot of steps we have to go through to get there."