NASCAR drivers behind latest Fairgrounds Speedway proposal

Monday, March 21, 2011 at 10:05pm

A second group has made a formal proposal to hold auto races at the Fairgrounds Speedway, setting up a potential showdown at the Board of Fair Commissioners’ April meeting that could decide the short-term fate of operations at the racetrack.

Former NASCAR drivers Chad Chaffin and Bobby Hamilton Jr., and other partners, have proposed holding 20 racing events over the 2011 and 2012 seasons, for which they would pay the fair board $5,000 per event. The proposal also references a handful of charity agreements, which includes pledged donations to nearby Fall-Hamilton Elementary School.

“It is our intention to return local racing to its proper place in relevance to other sporting and entertainment events in Nashville,” their proposal reads. “We want to bring people to the fairgrounds and to serve as a support activity for visitors to our great city.”

The state fair and the fairgrounds expo center are set to remain at the much-disputed 117-acre fairgrounds property for at least the next two years after Mayor Karl Dean retreated on redevelopment plans over the winter. The Metro Council in January voted to hold off on the demolition of the racetrack for the time being. Still, the status of racing is unclear.

Chaffin and Hamilton’s proposal comes after racing promoter Tony Formosa, the track’s most recent operator, already pitched an offer at this month’s fair board meeting. Formosa has since tweaked his proposal, and has asked to hold six events for 2011 and a minimum of six events for 2012. The event fee would be $4,500 for the first year and $4,725 for the next.

Formosa has said time is of the essence for the board to make a decision on racing. “The longer we wait, the more handicapped we are,” he told commissioners last month.

For now, the fair board is to consider both proposals at its April 5 meeting. The board could either accept one of the two pitches or reject both.

“At this point, it’s hard to say exactly how we’re going to handle these or how we’re going to look at them,” fair board chair James Weaver said.

“We strongly encourage Mr. Chaffin and Mr. Hamilton to sit down with the two neighborhood associations and the people who live in and around the racetrack, and look for common ground,” he added. “We’ve strongly encouraged Formosa to do that, and we believe those meetings are scheduled.”

Both Chaffin and Formosa this Saturday are taking part in muffler demonstrations at the speedway in attempt to show they can reduce the noise of their stock cars. Formosa’s muffler test begins at noon, with Chaffin’s beginning at 1:30 p.m. Fairgrounds neighbors are invited.

Mufflers are mandatory in both proposals.

Chaffin, like Formosa, has been outspoken for the preservation of the racetrack and has criticized Dean’s pursuit of redeveloping the property.

Chaffin is the son of Neil Chaffin, former fair board chair. Some council members in a letter have asked that Dean consider Chaffin as the board replacement for Weaver, whose term expires the day after April’s meeting. Weaver has said he has no interest in serving another term. 

Meanwhile, three groups have proposed operating the upcoming state fair. They are as follows: the Tennessee State Fair Association, which includes several state agricultural, tourism and political leaders; Cordova, Tenn.-based Delta Ag-Business; and the Fairgrounds Heritage Preservation Group, which has advocated against Dean’s redevelopment plans. 

10 Comments on this post:

By: woodbineman on 3/22/11 at 10:09

I just hope the fairboard takes one of the proposals.It is stupid to leave the track on used when you have people wanting to give the city money.The mufflers work just like the factory cars on the streets today.Like the Mustang,Corvette,Camaro and all the dueled exhaust pickups we hear around town today.It;s obvious that politics are all about the money and who you know.So let'em race and make the money for the people and let the crying and ego's go.

By: pswindle on 3/22/11 at 12:17

Let's do whatever it takes to save the fairgrounds. Dean still wants to get his hands on it.. If he is re-elected, he will have it because he will not have to face another election.

By: fair_minded on 3/22/11 at 12:33

Now to finish this article for NCP:

Here are the three proposals to operate the Tennessee State Fair.

Delta-Ag Business offered to pay the Fair Board $250,000 in rental fees for the Fairgrounds, additional fees for attendance over 100,000 and to put on a good Fair.

The Tennessee State Fair Association's proposal was to pay the Fair Board $50,000 in rental fees, and asked the Fair Board to finance their operation of the State Fair.

The Fairgrounds Heritage Preservation Group offered $310,000 in rental fees, additional fees for attendance over 100,000 as well as re-instating the premiums eliminated in 2010 (the premiums were cut 80% in 2010), and bringing in more entertainment events, including top-tier artists.

The rental fees paid to the Fair Board for the 2010 State Fair amount to a total of $100,000.

All three organizations are non-profit corporations.

You can read and compare the proposals at the links provided to the Fair Board's website.

By: bartsdad on 3/22/11 at 2:31

Go with the other proposals...get the kids around some farm animals, reward someone for growing a giant pumpkin, sell some greasy junk food and some tickets to some questionably dangerous rides. Anything but another spectator 'sport' that involves wasting massive amounts of diminishing fossil fuels. Insane that with climate change and skyrocketing gasoline prices and folks want to sit around watching cars drive in a circle for an hour making an incredible amount of noise.

By: TITAN1 on 3/22/11 at 3:17

bartsdad, if you don't like it, don't watch it. There are many who do enjoy it. Who died and made you boss?

By: gdiafante on 3/23/11 at 7:25

It's called an opinion, Titan1...who died and made you boss?

By: TITAN1 on 3/23/11 at 8:22

And I gave mine, now get back under your bridge.

By: gdiafante on 3/23/11 at 8:30

Oh, that's right. Spring Break. I always hate it when children hijack the site.

By: TITAN1 on 3/23/11 at 8:49

Yeah, I'm a 55 year old hijacker, sonny.

By: TITAN1 on 3/23/11 at 9:00

I hope Chad gets on the fair board, then there will be someone on there who really knows the history of racing at the fairgrounds. DW won his first CUP race there and I am proud to say I was there. Good luck to Chad and Bobby, Jr and Tony Formosa.