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Superspeedway appears destined for another idle season
Oct 04, 2012 12:00 am
By LARRY WOODY
Silence may be golden at times, but not when it comes to racetracks.
A second race-less season appears to be destined for Nashville Superspeedway, despite a couple of reports that circulated during the summer about possible new life for the Gladeville track in 2013.
Both reports were shot down last week.
One was that the Indy Racing League was considering a return to the track next season. The IRL held an annual race at the Superspeedway for eight years, from its opening in 2001 through the 2008 season, drawing good crowds.
Since abandoning the Superspeedway the IRL has struggled, especially after losing its star attraction Danica Patrick to NASCAR.
According to a report that circulated in some media circles, the IRL needs more races next season in order to meet sponsorship commitments. The need for an expanded schedule, went the reasoning, might prompt a return to Gladeville.
But last week the IRL released its 19-race schedule for 2013 and Nashville Superspeedway is not on it.
The second report that made the rounds back in the summer was that NASCAR star Tony Stewart was considering buying the Superspeedway from Dover Motorsports, building a dirt track on the site, and returning Nationwide Series and NASCAR truck races to the 1.3-mile main track.
Stewart, who owns some other dirt tracks, has done a considerable amount of testing at the Superspeedway and reportedly likes the venue.
However, the 2013 Nationwide Series schedule has been leaked and the Superspeedway is not on it. While not official, the leaked schedule is believed to be accurate.
It would be possible for Stewart or someone else to purchase and operate the track without any IRL, Nationwide or NASCAR truck races, but that seems unlikely.
There is also a possibility that the track could support drag racing – a drag strip was included in the initial blueprints when construction began in 2000 – but there are no indications of interest from any drag-racing organizations.
If racing ceases at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway at the end of the season it is possible but unlikely that the Superspeedway could host some of the Fairgrounds’ events next year.
“That’s not likely to happen because of the cost involved,” says Terrell Davis, editor of Middle Tennessee Racing News. “The big track’s not suited for local-division racing and I don’t see anybody building a short track there, given the current economy.”
When Dover Motorsports announced suspension of Superspeedway operations at the end of the 2011 season, officials said they would “keep all options open” concerning the track’s future – including its possible sale. That’s still Dover’s position.
Some revenue was generated this year by leasing the track on a day-by-day basis to various NASCAR teams for testing. That doesn’t produce much of a return on Dover’s estimated $100 million investment, but apparently no other options exist.
In other area racing news, the fate of the Fairgrounds hangs in the balance as debate continues about how best to use the Metro-owned property. Tony Formosa Jr. operated the track this season, but his lease expires at the end of the year and there is no guarantee that he – or anyone else – will have the track next year.
Highland Rim Speedway in Ridgetop got off to a late start under new ownership and will run an abbreviated schedule this fall. Plans call for a full season of racing next year at the upgraded Robertson County facility.