After a long absence, auto racing will be returning to the Nashville Superspeedway in Gladeville with a NASCAR Cup Series race in 2021.

Calling it a bit of “sunshine” in what has been a gloomy few months, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said, “It’s a dream come true that started in 2001 (when the track was built). It’s going to be an economic engine — with sales tax and hotel/motel tax — and it’ll put Wilson County on the map.”

Hutto said that, after the March 3 tornado that killed three Wilson Countians followed in mid-March by the coronavirus pandemic that shuttered businesses and schools, it was nice to get some good news.

“I think it’s going to be a quality event for our citizens and it’s good for our NASCAR fans in the Middle Tennessee region,” he said.

Dover Motorsports and NASCAR made the announcement about the race Tuesday night. Dover Motorsports built the 1.33-mile concrete track off Interstate 840 in 2001. A mixture of minor league NASCAR and Indycar series races were run a the track into 2011.

Dover Motorsports, which also owns Dover International Speedway in Delaware, is moving one of that track’s NASCAR Cup Series races here.

Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, said the move was part of an effort by NASCAR to “rejuvenate” the sport’s schedule.

“Of the 10 markets that NASCAR had identified for penetration, No. 1 on the list was Nashville,” McGlynn said. “It’s the hottest market in NASCAR.”

He said the track surface itself in is good shape, but renovations costing $8 million to $10 million would have to be done. Depending on how quickly things return to normal in light of the pandemic, that work may not be completed before next year’s race.

McGlynn said he expected to sell out the 25,000 permanent seats at the track, and hoped demand is great enough to create a need for 25,000 temporary seats.

He also hopes to have affiliated races during the days leading up to the Cup race.

Wilson County Convention and Tourism Bureau Director Jason Johnson, who has just been on the job since February, was excited to hear the news. He said he grew up being taken to NASCAR races by his dad and uncles, so he knows the excitement they bring to a community.

“It’s a big deal,” he said. “Definitely community involvement is going to happen, Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Gladeville.”

Several hundred acres of property at the track have been sold for industrial development over the years, McGlynn said, but the track still owns 1,000 acres. Once the track is reopened, it will have a permanent staff of about 40, he said.

Before closing in 2011, the track hosted NASCAR- and IRL-sanctioned events, including NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, and IndyCar Series.

Current NASCAR Cup Series competitors who have notched wins at Nashville Superspeedway include Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer and Austin Dillon.

“Thanks to the collaboration of Dover Motorsports and our broadcast partners, we are excited to bring NASCAR racing back to Nashville, a place where the passion for our sport runs deep,” said NASCAR President Steve Phelps in a news release. “The Nashville market is a vital one for our sport, and bringing NASCAR Cup Series racing to Nashville Superspeedway will be an integral building block in helping us further deliver on our promise in creating a dynamic schedule for 2021.”

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