Final checkered flag at Fairgrounds Speedway on Sunday?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 12:21am

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.”


11 Comments on this post:

By: Blanketnazi2 on 10/28/09 at 7:39

It's about damn time they close it!

By: localboy on 10/28/09 at 7:54

Somebody's got the fix in...

By: seabreeze on 10/28/09 at 8:20

Interesting how this administration, much like Fulton's, doesn't see the benefit of auto racing and its appeal to those other than the downtown or West Nashville crowd. Had Metro supported a new track back then, the economic benefits would have probably been more than the Titans/Predators combined. Can anyone say Bristol? Sad to see the same shortsightedness from the same people.

By: lisaleeds2008 on 10/28/09 at 8:39

Do not let it end like that Help us Fight....

Send donations for the Legal Defense Fund for the Tennessee StateFairgrounds to this address:

Fifth Third Bank
c/o Fairgrounds Heritage Preservation
Group2000 Wedgewood Ave.
Nashville, Tennessee 37212

On memo line of the check or money order put:

Legal Fund Any amount will help so please help save the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

By: luckyman on 10/28/09 at 9:20

It's interesting to note the dementia of our local and business leaders when there is talk of terminating a recreation venue. I ask you to recall the brilliant decision to allow NASCAR to remove our only event from Nashville. You only have to look at the millions that have been spent near Lebanon to build a raceway only to find that even if you build it, they (NASCAR) will not come.

Next I will refer you to the decision by Gaylord to abandon Opryland for an all-important destination venue like Opry Mills.

Do you think any of our government leaders and Gaylord want a do-over?

How can this decision be in the best interests of Nashville? At the risk of being labeled a conspiracy theorist, I suspect the fine Mayor, et al have plans for private development at the Fairgrounds site. Time will tell of course, but I submit there is more at play here than simply wanting "what's best for Nashville".

By: Tull on 10/28/09 at 11:12

I spent many a Saturday night enjoying racing at the Fairgrounds sorry to see it go!

By: racinfan on 10/28/09 at 11:39

If it doesn't benefit Karl Dean it gets cut!!! But he can recommend spending billions for a new convention center and hotel that will service the rick and famous.

The race track is one facility that caters to the family with pricing the "average" person can afford. Maybe that is why Karl Dean doesn't want it--it is too far beneath him!! I agree, he has an ulterior motive that will, undoubtedly, pad his pocket. I can't wait for his term to expire--it can't happen soon enough!!

To loose the fairgrounds speedway would be a major blow to Nashville. We screwed up once many years ago by not building a track in Nashville when we could have had a Cup race event here--now Dean wants to screw up again and take it all away!

By: TITAN1 on 10/28/09 at 12:22

All we had to do was keep adding seats to the current track and we would have never lost the Cup races. Bristol is a 1/2 mile track that sells out 160,000 every race. The fairgrounds track is 5/8 mile. The fair board members then did not know the difference between a Cup race and a Saturday night race. I was there when DW won his first Cup race. It was in the #88 Gatorade Chevy.

By: everloyal on 10/28/09 at 2:14

If we want to influence the Mayor to change his mind need to establish a fund to be used to defeat him at the next election. Nothing gets a politician's attention, even a carpetbagger, like money that will be used to oust him from office next time around. Now is the time to start planning on how to evict this "outsider" elitist who has stolen our government and is using it for his own agenda..

By: racinfan on 10/28/09 at 2:20

Ames to everloyal!! We can't be rid of our self serving mayor fast enough!

By: racinfan on 10/28/09 at 2:21

sorry--meant amen