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Does anyone really care that Nashville is off the Nationwide schedule?

By admin | August 3, 2011

By Richard Allen


On Wednesday morning the Dover Motorsports Group announced that its Nashville Superspeedway would not host a Nationwide Series event in 2012. Based on attendance at the facility in recent times, it has to be asked if anyone really cares that the track is being shuttered, or at least significantly scaled back?

“Nashville is a tremendous market filled with passionate race fans,” the speedway’s general manager Cliff Hawks said. “We have some extremely dedicated and talented employees who have made this track a great destination, but the reality is, after 10 years of effort, we have to face the fact that without a Sprint Cup race and/or a significant change in the operating model for other events, we simply cannot continue.”

The trouble in my view is that the Nationwide Series(or Sprint Cup Lite) has been so closely tied to the Sprint Cup Series that stand alone events have become meaningless. And the result of that tying together has depleted the soul and identity away from the series that was once an excellent alternative to NASCAR’s highest division.

Now, the series has become a time filler on Sprint Cup weekends at Sprint Cup tracks with Sprint Cup drivers.

The Nashville Superspeedway opened in 2001 and the 1.33 mile concrete track has never been very much of a favorite among fans or competitors. The track hosted one Nationwide Series race in 2001 and two races of that series in every year since. From 2001 to 2009 there was a single Camping World Truck Series race per year and two of those events over each of the past two seasons.

The track has also held IndyCar and ARCA Series races throughout its history.

For its part, NASCAR issued a statement on the track’s closure.

“As we continue to work on the 2012 schedules, we believe the changes that we made at the beginning of the season, particularly the ‘declare a series’ revision, have helped create renewed excitement and interest in both the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice president for racing operations.

“The schedules for these two series will remain strong, the racing will remain extremely competitive, and the development of future talent will continue to serve the sport well.”

The part about the “development of future talent” is laughable as the second series is currently run. This series over the past ten years has become nothing more than a means for tracks and television networks to promote Sprint Cup races and they have done so by allowing Sprint Cup drivers to completely and totally dominate the races. The ‘declare a series’ policy has done nothing to change that other than to set up a points system in which a paper champion will be declared at the end of the season.

If NASCAR really believes this series is serving the purpose of developing talent why then do they so desperately seek new drivers from the ranks of Formula 1, IndyCar and motorcycle stunt riding?

It has become apparent that fans have come to see the series for what it is as evidenced by the scores of empty seats and reduced television ratings, no matter where the venue. The only thing that could allow the series to survive again as a stand alone entity would be a complete reworking of the system, but that is not going to happen. Over the last few years, tracks in Memphis, St. Louis and this year Indianapolis and Nashville have disappeared from the Nationwide Series schedule in favor of more Sprint Cup companion races. Along with that, the soul and identity of the series has also disappeared.

So, does anyone care that the Nashville Superspeedway is off the Nationwide schedule? The answer is not really, and that includes NASCAR and its television partners.

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8 Responses to “Does anyone really care that Nashville is off the Nationwide schedule?”

  1. Richard Allen Says:
    August 3rd, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Consider this as well, if you were to ask anyone what they know about the Nashville Superspeedway their answers might well be that it is where the pastor gave the funny prayer and Kyle Busch smashed a guitar.

    What a legacy to leave behind.

  2. Ken Says:
    August 4th, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Except for Cryle Busch’s total lack of respect for the guitar, that guitar is, or rather was, one of the most sought after trophies in racing, second only to the Grandfather Clock that Martinsville awards. Let’s not include the Borg-Warner Trophy for winning the Indianapolis 500, which is really only available to a very small elite group of people, at least in my opinion. It will be too bad if that one is lost! I wonder if the trophy could migrate to Bristol?

  3. Charles Says:
    August 4th, 2011 at 7:29 am

    While many may not care that Nashville is off Nationwide Schedule! Its does make a statement!

    Having a Nascar series event is no longer a drawning card for fans or track success!

    I have never been to Nashville track, but looking on TV it looks like a track that needs to be on the Sprint Schedule!
    I mean its 1.3 miles, no cookie cutter and has as good of racing as I have seen on tv at other tracks!

    And what does Nascar defines success? tell me how the Truck Series makes it? its the one series that more people are in the infield than in stands! Who is footing this bill?, surely not fans, while it provides good racing, nobody seems to show up!

    The folks at Nashville seem to make a nice track, just built in early 2000s, Mabe Nascar is the one whos legacy is a joke! I dont seen anything wrong with them getting a Sprint Cup date!

  4. midasmicah Says:
    August 4th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Sorry Rich, but as the short and stand alone tracks continue to disappear, so does real racing. With the advent of more and more 1 1/2 tracks, REAL racing fans show their disapproval by dropping their pants and give the the dorks at Daytona the full monte. Is the banishment of Martinsville next? ….and the brown nosing media continue to drink the kool-aid.

  5. Matt Says:
    August 4th, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    You people are gloom and doom. You know what would have saved Nashville? Full grandstands. Comparing Nashville to Martinsville is apples to oranges, Martinsville at least has a history to fall back on, Nashville has no history except lackluster crowds and what some consider a “cool” trophy. You should talk about an injustice when one is actuall done, like Atlanta losing a race while Kansas picks up a second one. Kentucky at least sold their 100,000 tickets. A half full AMS is still greater than a Kansas full house. How about California continuing to have a race that is the punchline to a joke? The crowd at Indy was also a joke. The best way however, to bring back the masses would be to leave Chicago, Kansas, and Kentucky. Its no kidding that the crowds arent what they once were, markets have been saturated. Consumers can now pick and choose a race instead of having that one special weekend a year where they can load up the car and head to the track. This is good for the average fan, not good for the tracks, and not good for television cameras.

  6. sylvia richardson Says:
    August 4th, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    MATT HOW RIGHT YOU ARE… AND LETS GO BACK TO THE LADY IN BLACK AND GIVE ATLANTA 2 RACES.My opinion 2 of the best tracks nascar has.And lordy i sure love the 600. the allstar race for me is nothing.

  7. Mr. Tony Geinzer Says:
    August 4th, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Rich, I feel hurt that Nashville is history (AGAIN) AND I feel that the Cheeky Victory Dances would only mock the 2nd Greatest Race City in America, behind Indy as Indy is a Legend and Nashville is sick and tired of being the ghost.

  8. Jeff Says:
    August 4th, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    I hope nobody gets their hopes up for the Nashville and IRP races to get moved to a short track where the racing is good. You can bet king brian and henchman helton will just move these races to snoozers like Kansas, Chicago, Vegas and the like. They could give a damn less if the races are any good as long as it adds zeroes to their bank account. The way these clowns run na$car, it’s no damn wonder the grandstands are half full or less.