Fair board taps Tony Formosa to oversee fairgrounds racing

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 2:31pm

The Metro Board of Fair Commissioners has turned to a familiar face to operate auto-racing events at the fairgrounds speedway next year, a move that follows a turbulent season of racing at the city-owned track.

The board voted 5-0 Tuesday morning to contract racing promoter Tony Formosa, who held races at the track in 2010. In doing so, commissioners tapped Formosa over a star-studded group led by NASCAR greats Sterling Marlin, Chad Chaffin Jr. and Nashville businessman Bill Freeman.

Formosa — who after the vote is set to operate the track in 2012 under the title Fairgrounds Speedway Racing Association — had vied to hold additional races for the recently concluded racing year. But the board instead tapped NASCAR driver Bobby Hamilton Jr., who offered the board more money.

That was a decision commissioners likely regretted after they learned this fall Hamilton had breached his contract when his check payments to the board bounced. Financial troubles forced Hamilton to cancel the season’s final race.

Now, however, fairgrounds racing is back in the hands of Formosa, who has agreed to pay $53,500 to hold seven night races next year. Helping make the case for Formosa’s application Tuesday was former Metro Councilman Jamie Hollin, an attorney and lobbyist.

“I think we made a mistake last year,” fair board commissioner Ned Norton said before casting his vote for Formosa, noting that the board back then selected Hamilton because his proposal offered greater dollars to the board. He suggested such decision-making backfired.

In addition to the guaranteed $53,500 payment, the fair board will collect $1 for each auto-racing ticket sold, as well as fees from renting out the facility’s office, operating the track’s lights, and opening the track up to practices, among other revenue sources.

Marlin and Chaffin’s proposal, dubbed Tennessee Racing Association, would have guaranteed the board $62,500, which exceed Formosa’s offer. But board members said they could make up the difference through the other guaranteed fees.

In opting against Marlin’s proposal, commissioners like Charles Sueing referenced feeling “more comfortable” with Formosa, who has worked with the board in the past.

A third group seeking a total of 10 races withdrew its proposal after the board made it clear it would entertain no more than seven.

Moving forward, an important issue for fairgrounds racing will be its relationship with the surrounding neighborhood, which includes many residents who have complained about the track’s noise over the years.

Unlike this past year, races are to be held at night, not the day. As part of the contract, racing is to be subjected to constant sound monitoring.

“The change from day races to night races will create an additional impact on the neighborhood, and it’s something that we’ll discuss as neighbors,” said Colby Sledge, who chairs the organization South Nashville Action People.

“The important thing that we’ve gained from this contract is that there will definitely be sound monitoring and data that we can see and use for the next racing season,” he added.

23 Comments on this post:

By: Doveplayer on 12/6/11 at 3:45

First off, Joey Garrison, Chad is NOT a Jr. That was Bobby Jr who mistakenly was awarded the track last season.
Second, the Fair Board has now proven they are liars. At the last meeting, we were told, and yes I was there, that the bidders would submit bids today plus an y other financial, or background information the Fair Board would request. They would then look everything over and make a decision based on all the information given and announce the decision on Thursday, Dec 8.
I am not against Tony Formosa Jr winning the lease, but it would be interesting to know exactly what criteria the Fair Board used in awarding the lease.
Third, Colby Sledge can you PLEASE move back to wherever it is you came from? You are like a damned little gnat buzzing around waiting to be swatted. You want to make an impact on Nashville? MOVE! Maybe your buddy Karl can set you up in a nice place in Belle Meade where he lives so you don't have to listen to the nasty old race cars any longer.
The rest of us plan on enjoying racing here for a long, LONG time yet. It's only been 108 years, so far. We plan to keep it around for another 108.
For those who oppose the track, call Pensacola, Fla and ask them if they like their track? They will gladly tell you they LOVE their race track. They just hosted the biggest short track event of the year. That little title? It used to belong to us here at Nashville. Fans and drivers from many, many different states converged on Pensacola for 4 days and they absolutely loved it. Revenue? Taxes? They made money hand over fist down there. Business owners in Nashville, think of the possibilities of 15,000 or more fans and drivers and crews all visiting your town for a week. Not a one day football or hockey game, but a 4 day race weekend.
If you don't like to make money, it's your call.
First, we save our track, then we rid ourselves of our crooked mayor and his crooked Fair Board and all his crooked cronies. Then maybe we can work on Nashville, and make it right again.

By: SouthNashvillian on 12/6/11 at 4:25

Doveplayer - what exactly is the point of your post? You get racing for another season, the lease has the same terms as last year. What are you complaining about?

By: bfra on 12/6/11 at 4:28

SouthNashvillian - You don't like truth & facts? You must be pretty old if the race track wasn't there before you!

By: SouthNashvillian on 12/6/11 at 4:40

Again...point, please? Seriously, what are you complaining about now?!?!

By: shef2 on 12/6/11 at 8:45

Doveplayer,
Maybe YOU should move to Pensacola-! Sounds like you'd be happier there.
We're going to keep Colby right where he is. We like him here in our neighborhood.

By the way, how did you get the name, "Doveplayer"-?
Doves are usually known as the symbol for Peace.
Unless, of course you play with Doves, & that worries me...

By: shef2 on 12/6/11 at 8:46

Congratulations, Tony-!

By: Ask01 on 12/7/11 at 7:53

I have some confusion on the entire 'problem' concerning the fairgrounds. Call it a senior moment, an affliction I notice with increased frequency these days.

If those living in close proximity to the fairgrounds property have a problem with the activities there, why did they buy property in that location? That would be akin to me demanding the airport move the runway because aircraft approach and departure patterns come right over the house I bought knowing they did so. (I personally enjoy watching the C-130s flying around.)

Also, why would the residents support disposing of the property, knowing this tract is, to my understanding, zoned for industrial development? Instead of the periodic disturbances to the community, they could enjoy being neighbors to a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week industrial operation, with accompanying heavy truck and perhaps rail traffic.

I believe, since current Mayor Karl Dean has foisted the new convention center upon us, we should exploit the property with attractions designed to further seperate conventioneers from their money.

The proximity to downtown leads me to believe a modest theme park styled like a State or County Fair with attached museum attuned to the same theme should be explored. A similar exhibit paying homage to the sites role in racing offering a card of race events, rides on the track in simulated race cars, museum, lectures, guest appearance by retired racers, et cetera might attract visitors spending money and creating jobs.

The concept could tie together several sites. The fairgrounds, exploiting the history of horse and auto racing, fairs, and, as I recall early contributions to aviation; Fort Negley, recalling Nashville and Tennesse's role in the Civil War (or War of Northern Agression, depending on your heritage); the Sounds Stadium, (the real name totally escapes me right now, sorry another senior moment) adding a nod to the great American pasttime of baseball. We could have a complex of sites surrounding the MCC, in relatively close proximity which, in theory could showcase Nashville and Tennessee history, create jobs, and part tourists from their money.

We already have the Ryman, various universities, Centennial and Bi Centennial parks, Farmers Market and other attractions on other flanks, why not cover the southern flank?

Thanks for listening, (or reading) I know I drifted off topic, but I just believe we have much better options to use this property, preserve some history, and create jobs and tax revenue than merely allowing some transplanted mayor to have the facility razed with no definite plan on the table. I suppose we should peek under the table to see if we can devine Mayor Dean's true agenda, eh?.

By: anjnew on 12/7/11 at 8:48

I am glad that Formosa is getting the track but it seems to me they gave the track to who ever is most likely to fail. Marlin had many backers (money) ready to come in...looks like they would have wanted to give it to the person who can make it the most sucessive season.

I would like to know what critieria they looked at to consider what and who was best for the job.

This whole thing is BS!!!!! I hate to see the track go but when people in charge arent for it...well we see what happens.

By: whitetrash on 12/7/11 at 9:36

Pensacola Florida vs. Nashville, TN
Population of Pensacola Florida 56,255
Population of Nashville, Tennessee 635,710
Nashville has 12 times more people than Pensacola thus we should do something with the property that benefits the community not the redneck racers from the surrounding counties. The fairgrounds speedway doesn't do much for the community except keep the area from reaching its full potential.

Distance from the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville to Metro City Hall 2.2 miles.
Distance from Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola to Pensacola City Hall 12.3 miles. The point is Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola Florida is not anywhere close to the core of the City unlike the Fairgrounds Speedway. If you google earth Five Flags Speedway it looks like it is in area much like Highland Rim Speedway. Basically it is located in the outskirts of the community.

Five Flags Speedway Pensacola Florida is privately owed and located on private property. The tax payers of Nashville Davidson County own the land and the Fairgrounds Speedway.

Doveplayer you're comparing Pensacola Florida to Nashville, Tennesee. Lol.....

By: anjnew on 12/7/11 at 10:25

WhiteTrash, I hardly call myself or Scott Broschetta or many others rednecks. I am a upstanding citizen in this community. I am very educated and volunteer for many community events. Just because we like to race as a family pastime doesn’t consider me as a redneck. All your doing is spreading hate and prejudices. May God be with you and your judgmental ways. I bet you don’t call your golf buddies slackers...hum?

By: TITAN1 on 12/7/11 at 12:45

Screen name is white trash and he calls someone else a redneck? I thought they were the same.

By: spotter1276 on 12/7/11 at 2:48

All of you who dont like the fact that the fairgrounds is open again for the 2012 season and claim its too"noisy". Ha, get over yourself. The track has been there wayyyyyyyyy before you, maybe you should have thought about that before you moved beside a racetrack. Whats next? Closing down the interstate that beside your home. Isnt that too noisy? C'mon! Lets sbut down the railroads close to there to. Those trains sure blow pretty loud.FAIRGROUNDS SPEEDWAY 2012!!!!!!!!

By: nissanguy on 12/7/11 at 8:16

Well, hopefully Tony will do a better job than Bobby did. Depending on how things look I may go blow the dust off my toy and go run next year.....

By: tenn.Big Dog on 12/8/11 at 7:40

Tenn. Big Dog--- HAS ANYONE THOUGHT TO GET THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL TO PUT THE FAIRGROUNDS UNDER THE PARK BOARD, AND ELIMINATE THE FAIR BOARD AS IT EXISTS? (1)
MY REASON FOR THIS MOVE IS THAT THE PARK BOARD AND MR. LYNCH SEEMS TO OPERATE
VERY WELL WITH MONIES GIVEN TO THEM EVERY YEAR TO KEEP UP THE PARKS AND GOLF COURSES. (2) DEMAND A LONG TERM LEASE FOR THE USE OF ALL FACTIONS OF THE FAIRGROUNDS PROPERTY WHETHER IT BE THE RACE TRACK, THE WRESTLING ARENA, FLEA MARKET,OR ANY AND ALL VENUES ON THE PROPERTY.
(3) TAKE THE REVENUES COLLECTED AND INSTEAD OF HIDING THEM IN THE GENERAL FUND AND CLAIMING THAT THE FAIRGROUNDS IS COSTING TAX PAYERS MONEY, TELL THE TRUTH AND PUT THE MONIES BACK INTO THE PROPERTY THAT IS GENERATING THAT INCOME. IT IS FUNNY THAT THERE USE TO BE A REAL BIG FUND HANDLED BY THE FAIR BOARD AND IT DISAPPEARED INTO THE GENERAL FUND FOR THE POLITICIANS TO WASTE ON THEIR PET PROJECTS.(4) WITH MONIES PUT BACK INTO THE FAIRGROUND PROPERTIES THAT IT EARNS EACH YEAR FROM THE DIFFERENT VENUES, WE COULD HAVE A SHOW PLACE INSTEAD OF AN EYE SORE LIKE WE HAVE NOW. OF COURSE THIS WOULD MAKE COMON SENSE, AND TAKE THE CASH OUT OF THE MONEY GRABBERS HANDS TO WASTE ELSEWHERE WHILE LETTING THIS PROPERTY GO TO HELL.

WHY DO WE HAVE TO ELECT THESE NON BORN AND RAISED NASHVILLIANS. THERE ARE PLENTY OF NASHVILLE OR AT LEAST TENNESSEANS TO RUN OUR CITY. THE YANKEE CARPET BAGGERS HAVEN, NASHVILLE TN.

By: tenn.Big Dog on 12/8/11 at 8:04

Tenn. Big Dog-----NOW AS FOR THE RACERS. I WOULD LIKE FOR THE MONEY MEN, STERLING, FREEMAN, AND THEIR BUNCH FORM A CORPORATION AND PARTNERSHIP WITH TONY TO HAVE BIG TIME FUNDS TO ATTRACT BIG TIME HIGH PAYING RACES, WHICH THE KNOWN OUT OF STATE RACE STARS WILL FILL THE GRANDSTANDS WITH FANS WATCHING THEM TRYING TO BEAT OUR LOCAL STARS.
IF WE WANT TO COMPETE WITH THE BRISTOL'S AND DARLINGTON'S ETC. THEN WE HAVE TO OFFER THEIR KINDS OF MONIES. THE SNOWBALL DERBY IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. THEY PAY BIG PURSES, AND THEY BRING IN THE RACE LEGENDS LIKE BILL ELLIOT, AND MARK MARTIN WATCHING THEIR KIDS RACE.
UNTIL WE GET OUR HEADS OUT OF THE SAND, WE WON'T EVER GET BACK INTO THE BIG TIME LIKE WHEN BILL DONOHOE USE TO OPERATE OUR TRACK AND EVENTUALLY RUN OFF BY THE BACK THEN FAIR BOARD.

WAKE UP GUYS AND WORK TOGETHER ON THIS IF YALL REALLY WANT TO KEEP THE TRACK OPERATING..===TONY AND HIS CREW KNOW HOW TO DO IT, THEY JUST NEED BIG TIME FINANCES TO MAKE IT A PREMIER OPERATION..

By: Left-of-Local on 12/8/11 at 8:47

Ooooh. I LOVE the idea of eliminating the Fair Board and placing it under the Parks admin. NICE!

That way, we can get forward-thinkers into the issue instead of the same lying rednecks who have fooled people into feeling like they are preserving something important, when all that's really going on is an under-use of urban land for the preservation of slummy old buildings with no historic value, and a subset of a sport whose market is failing badly.

By: GUARDIAN on 12/8/11 at 9:45

LOL What a joke. The Fair Board gives it to Bobby Jr. knowing he didn't have the backing or the brains to make the racetrack a success and now they give it to Formosa for the same reason. They don't want the Racetrack to be a success or they would of given it to Sterling Marlin who has the connections to make the racetrack successful.

By: TITAN1 on 12/8/11 at 9:54

GUARDIAN, have you told Bobby Jr to his face that he doesn't have the brains?

By: Rasputin72 on 12/8/11 at 10:21

I love the way writers use the word "tap" It had a different meaning in my youth.

By: whitetrash on 12/8/11 at 2:58

Since there is going to be racing in 2012 I hope they don't waste our time in having supertruck races. Who wants to sit in the stands and watch 3 or 4 trucks race for an hour? If you can't get more than 12 supertrucks to compete then don't waste your time and energy in trying to bring division back to the fairgrounds speedway. The local supertruck drivers suck and couldn't beat Stevie Wonder in a race!

By: GUARDIAN on 12/8/11 at 6:11

GUARDIAN-GOD, COUNTRY, FAMILY and FRIENDS. The American Way.
Titan I worked in CUP for almost 20 years without a scar on my face or any sign of a broken nose while always telling it like it is. Even Bobby Sr. if he was still with us would tell him leave that one alone.

By: nissanguy on 12/9/11 at 7:08

Left Of Local, the only reason the "subset" of our sport is failing is because track promoters have failed to look forward in this sport, and are still relying on Sportsman and Late Model cars to draw crowds. I can guarantee that if you promoted Mini-Stock FWD races and paid some decent money, and put the word out that you were going to PAY some decent money, that we could fill fields in a hurry. Oh yeah - and a standard set of rules would be nice - as long as you don't change them every weekend !!

By: drsilver on 4/10/12 at 10:16

As of 2007, the population in Pensacola, FL was 453,451 residents. Thanks for using ChaCha! (from chacha.com).