NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway would be renovated and run by Bristol Motor Speedway in a deal designed to bring NASCAR racing back to the historic short track that first opened in 1904.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper signed a letter of intent Friday along with Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports President, which owns Bristol Motor Speedway, for a track that hasn’t hosted NASCAR’s top level of racing since 1984.
“The goal of the partnership is to bring our historic racetrack back to life as a valuable and exciting part of the Fairgrounds,” said Mayor John Cooper.
Nashville will fund renovations for the track by issuing bonds up to $50 million. Bristol would be responsible for future renovations and upkeep and must sign a long-term contract to lease and manage the track, which must be approved by both the local fair board and Nashville council.
Bristol also would lease all the fairgrounds property for four weeks a year for $1 million to host major racing events. The company would be responsible for managing renovations to both the half-mile oval track and facility, which is adjacent to the soccer-only stadium being built for Nashville’s MLS team.
“The dream of Nascar returning to the historic Nashville Fairgrounds is another step closer to reality,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrote on social media.
The Nashville Superspeedway, a 1.33-mile, D-shaped oval about 30 miles east, is owned by Dover Motorsports, Inc. That track will host its first NASCAR Cup Series race on June 20.
Bristol Motor Speedway already has two NASCAR Cup Series races at the half-mile track 290 miles east of Nashville in Tennessee.
“We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and go to work to fully restore the speedway, recruit national events and breathe new life into a venue that has a legendary status in auto racing history,” Smith said.