The track that came back from the dead, Nashville Superspeedway is re-establishing its credentials after being shuttered for racing for nearly a decade.
Having operated successfully since opening in 2001 but without being able to secure a lucrative NASCAR Cup Race, owners Dover Motorsports Inc. seemed rather to lose interest in the facility in 2012. A protracted sale process eventually fell through on two occasions, before Dover withdrew it from the market, having finally secured its fabled NASCAR Cup date for 2021.
The track has duly reopened and remains host of the Ally 400 Cup Series race, the Tennessee Lottery 250 Xfinity Series event, and the Rackley Roofing 200 Camping World Truck Series race.
The largest concrete-only track on the NASCAR schedule, the circuit was opened by the Dover Motorsports Group in 2001. The 1.33-mile D-shaped oval features 14 degrees of banking and a road course variation, as well as lighting for nighttime events. Grandstand seating cater for 25,000 spectators, which can be expanded with temporary bleachers to accommodate up to 150,000.
In its first period of operation, the facility hosted four major races each year: two NASCAR Xfinity Series races and two NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races (one per year prior to 2010). The IndyCar Series Firestone Indy 200 was also a regular runner at the track until 2008.
The circuit was unable to secure a NASCAR Cup series race, however, despite numerous overtures by Dover Motorsports. When the latter elected to close Memphis Raceway Park in 2009, it transferred the Truck Race to Nashville, running it one day ahead of its Xfinity Series (then Nationwide Series) event.
Despite this, NASCAR was still disinterested in bringing the Cup Series to play and sluggish ticket sales only compounded the situation. In August 2011 it was announced that the track would not seek any NASCAR-sanctioned events for 2012, effectively bringing the curtain down on racing.
While there was no racing, the track was still available for hire, private testing, promotional and filming events. Somewhat ironically, it became a testing venue for the NASCAR Cup teams, who were now free to run there as it was not on any of the schedules.
Amidst the racing hiatus, Dover Motorsports hinted that it would be open to offers for the facility. Various rumours of interest came and went until 2014 when it was announced that NeXovation, Inc. would be purchasing the racetrack and all assets and equipment from Dover Motorsports for $27 million. The same company was also bidding to purchase the fabled Nürburgring in Germany.
Completion on the deal was expected in the final months of 2014, with NeXovation, Inc paying around £2.9 million in fees, mainly deadline extensions, before Dover Motorsports pulled out of the sale at the end of July 2018, announcing it was back on the market.
Just over a year later, it was announced that a new agreement had been reached to sell the property to the Panattoni Development Company. The $44.7 million deal would have seen Panattoni tear down the speedway and convert the site into a distribution and logistics park. However, that deal also eventually fell through, giving the superspeedway a reprieve.
With no further interested bidders and dwindling track activity, the future looked particularly uncertain. However, the winds of change were blowing through NASCAR, who were finally becoming warm to the idea of a race in Middle Tennessee. Talks began and lasted several years, but in June 2020 an announcement finally came that Nashville Superspeedway was to reopen in 2021, as it had been included back on the NASCAR Schedule once more, albeit at the expense of one of the two rounds at Dover Speedway.
Erik Moses, a veteran sports executive and seasoned venue management leader, was named president of the track in August 2020, overseeing the reopening process.
The first NASCAR Cup Series race in the Nashville area since 1984 thus took place on Father's Day in June 2021, with Kyle Larson taking the victory for Hendricks Motorsport.