Fairgrounds track operator cancels 'last' race

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 12:10pm

The end came quicker than expected for Fairgrounds Speedway as track operator Danny Denson has decided to cancel the scheduled season-ending All-American 400.

The race had originally been set for last weekend but was postponed due to a rainy forecast and rescheduled for the end of the month.

Denson reconsidered, but Wednesday decided to cancel the race and close the track due to ongoing problems with Metro.

“There had been so much negative attention that we decided to go and end it now,” said Denson, referring to plans by Mayor Karl Dean, and the Fair Board vote, to shut down the entire Fairgrounds next June 30.

“It’s impossible to promote a race in this kind of atmosphere. It’s all over. It’s a sad day for our sport and our city,” he said.

The track opened in 1958 on a Metro-owned site that had hosted some form of racing since 1904.

The closing of Fairgrounds Speedways leaves Nashville Superspeedway in Wilson County as the only major-league race track in Middle Tennessee. That track is considered unsuitable for local-division racing.

“I don’t know where young drivers just starting out are going to race,” said Sterling Marlin, a three-time track champion whose son Steadman and daughter Sutherlin raced at the Fairgrounds this season.

“I’ve looked around, and Montgomery (Ala.) is the closest [suitable] track I can find. I never thought we’d see a situation like this in an area that used to be famous for its racing.”



10 Comments on this post:

By: Blanketnazi2 on 11/4/09 at 1:42

about time.

By: WayneJ on 11/4/09 at 2:26

As I recall, the campus of what I prefer to call Gladeville International Speedway has acreage designated for construction of a smaller facility that could support what Danny and his people, as well as those who previously ran the track operation, have done so well for all these years. This in spite of the fair board and its incompetence ranging clear back to the day when Fairgrounds Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway were essentially identical and the decisions were made that cost Nashville its (now) Sprint cup races.

Karl Dean and his cronies have destoyed the fairgrounds speedway. He won't get my vote next time but I'll be happy to sign a petition to have him recalled.

Bruton Smith has turned Bristol into a 160,000 seat venue that hosts 2 wildly successful Sprint Cup races, Nationwide Series races, and the adjacent dragstrip. Not to mention that he once offered UT and Va. Tech a small sum to play each other at the speedway just to say he hosted the biggest college football (attendance-wise) ever.

The amount? Just $20 million - to each team..

We need Bruton Smith to come over here and run this city the way he runs his highly successful business empire. Between the fairgrounds, the convention center (a/k/a Music City Cashcow), the schools, the police dept., the parks dept., etc., etc., Dean and his cronies obviously don't have a clue.

The only question now left to answer is whether or not Dover Downs will consider constructing a replacement facility at Gladeville. And as I write this, where does Highland Rim Speedway figure in the future of local racing here?

By: border collie on 11/4/09 at 4:09

Sterling, Darryl, and the rest of you local NASCAR guys need to HELP!!!!!!!!!!!! NASHVILLE LOVES RACING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: racefan1 on 11/5/09 at 8:26

This is a sad day, I've lived in Nashville for 15 plus years and have always loved the local track racing from, Nashville, to Highland Rim, I just can't believe there isn't someone out there that can't fight the Mayor & his stupid decision to shut us down.

By: jcdad2003 on 11/5/09 at 9:19

I am no fan of Mayor Dean's either, but he can't take all the blame for the closing of the fairgrounds. This is aiscussion that has gone on for years. I can remember about ten years ago they wanted to close the fairgrounds, build the Sounds a new ball park there, and then surround the new ball park with smaller ballparks for Little League Baseball, and ASA Softball.
When the new speed way was built there was an offer to build a smaller track for local talent, but the owner of the old Fairground track at the time refused to have anything to do with it because it forced him to loose control of all the local racing. Just a few years later and he sales out anyway. I have been in the area since 87 and it was even talked about then. The writing has been on the wall for a long time, so it was just a matter of time

By: tekman on 11/5/09 at 10:35

Comparison with the Bristol Motor Speedway only illustrates why it is time for the tract to go. In Bristol the track is on the edge of a town of 24,000 people. The fairground is surrounded by residential neighborhoods and is a noisy neighbor from Germantown to Green Hills, disturbing 100,000+ people. The heart of a city of half a million is no place for a race track.

The only constant in the world is change. Accept it, work to shape it, or be eternally disappointed.

Someone else posted this list of alternative tracks.

1. Atomic Speedway Knoxville
2. Barren County Speedway Glasgow (KY)
3. Beech Bend Raceway Park Bowling Green (KY)
4. Beech Bend Raceway Park( Dragstrip )Bowling Green (KY)
5. Big South Fork RacewayHuntsvillem (AL)
6. Bristol Dragway Bristol
7. Bristol Motor SpeedwayBristol
8. Cherokee Dragway Bean Station
9. Clarksville Speedway Clarksville
10 .Clayhill Motorsports Cleveland
11. Cleveland Speedway Cleveland
12. Duck River Speedway Shelbyville
13. English Mountain Dragway Sevierville
14. 411 Raceway Seymore
15. Fairgrounds Speedway USA Nashville
16. Kingsport Speedway Kingsport
17. Garner Town Speedway Huron
18. Great River Road Raceway Dyersburg
19. Highland Rim Speedway Greenbrier
20. Hohenwald Motor Sports Speedway Hohenwald
21. Huntsville Speedway Huntsville (AL)
22. Jackson Dragway Jackson
23. Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway Calvert City (KY)
24. Knoxville Dragway Marynardville
25. Memphis Motorsports Park Dirt Memphis
26. Memphis Motorsports Park Memphis
27. Middle Tennessee Dragway Baxter
28. Milan Motor Speedway Milan
29. Music City Raceway Goodlettsville
30. Nashville Speedway USA Nashville
31. Nashville Super Speedway Lebanon
32. Newport Speedway Newport
33. Northwest Tennessee Motorsports Huntington
34. Paducah International Raceway Park Paducah (KY)
35. Riverview Speedway Park Carthage
36. Scenic Raceway Oneida
37. Tazewell Speedway Tazewell
38. Thunderhill Raceway Lawrenceburg
39. US 43 Drag Raceway Ethridge
40. Volunteer Speedway Bulls Gap
41. Wartburg Speedway Wartburg
42. Winchester Speedway Winchester
43. I-40 Dragway Park Crossville

By: orangey on 11/5/09 at 10:35

Really Denson??? Your racetrack has had tons of FREE publicity since the Fairboard and Mayor Dean decided to close the track and you cannot promote a "farewell" race?
Even I could sell tickets to that. Must not be as popular as you claim it to be.

By: pandabear on 11/5/09 at 10:46

I'm glad the racing is over.

They never cared about all the late night noise that
disturbed a lot of us who live nearby, and they still don't.

They just want what they want and don't care about anyone else.

By: WayneJ on 11/5/09 at 2:52

Tekman’s list that “someone else posted” has a few flaws.

1. Atomic Speedway is being razed to make room for a Crete Carrier Corp. shop/terminal.
5. Big South Fork Raceway is @ Huntsville, TN not AL – bit of a haul from here (so was Atomic).
15. The reason we’re even talking about this!
26. Dover Downs just closed down the larger Memphis track.
30.-31. The same existing facility that is a bit too large for the weekly short track events, as is #7.

I’m also a bit curious as to the combination of dragstrips and oval tracks on that list. I’m of the mindset that you don’t really morph the two as a form of competition, owing to the difference in the cars used, type of competition, distance competed, and most of all, one of the two doesn’t have left-hand turns and neither turns right! Last I heard, Music City Raceway in the hills above Goodlettsville was doing all right.

By: Time for Truth on 11/5/09 at 10:12

WayneJ, that only takes out a small portion of what tekman posted. The big omission is Highland Rim, which is very viable and readily accessible from Nashville. The racetrack owner here has hardly helped his own cause, as shown by this hissy fit, and the reason that Bristol is a vital and important NASCAR venue and Nashville isn't is largely because previous ownership here blew it. Ask Larry Woody, he knows what could have been.

While Dean is a mistake many of us made in the last mayoral election, the sad state of affairs at the Fairgrounds is a malady that likely cannot be reversed. The best hope is for one of two things. The first being that Metro Legal cannot weasle around the stipulation of use for this property and money is spent to turn the fairgrounds into something suitable for a real state fair. The second is that a higher and better use is implemented which will be an asset to the area rather than an asset to the mayor's friends.

To achieve either goal the mayor's office needs to look at backing off of the MCC project, which will bankrupt the city. Even experienced event managers I've talked to-the honest ones- say this project is likely to be a big loser.

The Fairgrounds may remain alive but it appears the racetrack will not. Mixed feelings here.