Events at the Nashville Superspeedway may seem as distant as a time when dinosaurs walked the earth for those growing up after it closed in 2011. But today, dinosaurs are walking the speedway as it roars back to life.
Jurassic Quest, a drive-through experience featuring large-scale animatronic dinosaurs and habitats, opened Friday and will run 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Nov. 22 at $49 per car.
The attraction is the first large-scale public event at the venue in over nine years and reflects Nashville Superspeedway President Erik Moses’ year-round vision for the track.
“Part of what I heard while I was introducing myself to the community was, ‘we loved the races at the Speedway but wish there had been more,’ ” he said. “I heard that loud and clear, and that’s a big part of my mission.”
Moses envisions four to six marquee events at the track each year, with others filling out the schedule and keeping things fresh. He said they decided to start with Jurassic Quest because of its safe and family-friendly atmosphere.
“They’ve talked about hopefully having something out there 365 days a year,” Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said, adding that he sees a lot of opportunity for the speedway to host fun family activities.
“Not only will you find fun, but you’ll also find education as well,” Jurassic Quest Public Relations Coordinator Sarah Menard said. “I think everybody when they’re young has a time when they’re obsessed with dinosaurs, and it’s nice as an adult to be able to come here and even bring your kids or your own parents with you and everyone sees the dinosaurs they loved when they were kids.”
Families can also play a free audio tour from Jurassic Quest’s website to learn more about each dinosaur as they drive through. The recording also includes roars and ambient noises to create an immersive ride.
“It’s just different facts about the dinosaurs, and there’s also a storyline that goes along with it,” Jurassic Quest fossil expert Marty Hoffman said. “So that keeps it fun and interactive while still being educational.”
Hoffman is on hand to answer any questions attendees have about the dinosaurs during their drive at 844-DINO-411, and can be heard on the audio tour as Park Ranger Marty.
Menard, who plays Safari Sarah on the tour, said families have continued enjoying the experience after it moved outdoors amid COVID-19. Jurassic Quest has been running for nearly seven years and travels across the country.
“It’s honestly changed everything for us,” she said. “We used to be an interactive show that has everything indoors, but now we’re completely contactless. So trying to find a way to bring all the education and fun without all the germs wasn’t necessarily a challenge, but it definitely was a change of pace and something that our customers have really adapted to.”
Employees saw the Nashville Superspeedway as a perfect place for the event because it has enough space for the more than 70 dinosaurs involved.
“The great thing is, and I’ve seen it for a long time working in this business, once people know you’re up and running they’ll find you,” Moses said. “This was one of those situations, and we had an early conversation with Jurassic Quest … we felt confident it was a trustworthy promoter and a way we could start things off with a family-focused event.”
Jurassic Quest’s dinosaurs are built to look and feel like the real thing, so some of them may look different than they do in Hollywood blockbusters. From scales and feathers to frills and fur, each detail was added with input from real paleontologists.
“We hope that have a good time, first of all, but we also hope they learn a little bit about dinosaurs,” Hoffman said. “Learn a little bit about the world we live in and the effects that we have on the planet, as well as the effects that these animals had. We’re just here for a short time, and we’re a small piece of the earth’s history, so it gives you a little perspective.”