For 51 years the biggest names in NASCAR flocked to Fairgrounds Speedway — and before that, dating back to 1904, other types of races were held at the site.
This weekend it ends forever.
Sunday’s All-American 400 marks the end of the season and the end of an era. Mayor Karl Dean plans to close the Fairgrounds on June 30, 2010.
There is speculation that the State Fair will be moved to Wilson County, and other events such as the Flea Market and Christmas Village relocated, but the future of auto racing is murky. The 1.3-mile Superspeedway in Gladeville is not suited for weekly-type racing, and other area tracks are too small.
“It’s sad to see it end,” said Danny Denson, who operated the track this season.
“The greatest drivers in history raced here — Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip …this old track is the Ryman of racing. Nashville is rapidly losing its history and traditions that made our city so special.”
Denson disputes the Mayor’s contention that the Fairgrounds does not draw well. He said hundreds of thousands of visitors turn out annually for the various attractions and noted that the Fairgrounds operates entirely on its own funds.
“We can’t lose any tax dollars because we don’t receive any tax dollars,” Denson said. “I’m certainly not getting rich off the track and I didn’t expect to when I took over.
"I admit it’s been a struggle, but I’d be willing to continue to run it simply because I love racing and I don’t want to see it die," he added. "Unless something drastic changes at the last second, though, it’s all over.”