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NASCAR's Cup Series returning mid-state opens up a new chapter of racing history

NASCAR returns to Nashville Superspeedway
Posted at 6:27 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 21:35:26-04

WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — For the first time in a decade, the familiar rumble and roar of racing returned to the Nashville Superspeedway. Tuesday was just a test run, but the real deal - the Ally 400 - rolls into Wilson County June 20.

"They want to be back in Nashville," said racing legend Darrell Waltrip at a news conference Tuesday. "I think we’re sitting on a goldmine. I really think bringing NASCAR Cup cars back to this racetrack, I think we’re going to see an incredible turnout and an incredible race."

But this isn't Music City's first rendezvous with racing. "Going all the way back to the early 1900s when you talk about the Fairgrounds Speedway, and the period of time where they hosted the Cup series from the late 50s to the early 80s," said Brad Willis, Executive Director of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and a former longtime sports radio personality.

While the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway has history, it didn't have a lot of space. So in the early 2000s, the Nashville Superspeedway was built. It had a world-class concrete track and facility, but the crowds were lackluster. "One thing that had always been lacking in terms of just a casual fan, was the Cup series and those names that came along with it," said Willis.

History won't be repeating itself in June.

NASCAR's top drivers will compete in the track's first-ever Cup Series race, which already has fans revving their engines. "Racing fans are a rabid bunch. They’re loyal and they travel," said Willis.

The return to racing won't stop with the Superspeedway. IndyCar drivers will race up and down Nashville's streets this August in the inaugural Music City Grand Prix.

The Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway could also make a triumphant return. Last month, Nashville Mayor John Cooper inked a deal with Bristol Motorspeedway for them to take over management of the historic track. The move could put the famous short track back on the NASCAR circuit in the coming years.

That also means the rumble and roar of racing could one day be as common as hearing music in Music City. "I think that will be a launching point for what I hope will be many many years of motor racing success right here in Nashville," said Willis.

Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, says they don't know how many seats they'll be able to open up, but between tourism and the Sunday race being on national TV, the event will be just the shot in the arm the area needs.

Nashville Superspeedway will host a total of three races on Father's Day weekend. The Camp Series Truck Race will be Friday, June 18. The Xfinity Series Race will be Saturday, June 19th. The NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 will be Sunday, June 20.

All three races still have tickets available.