Roger Penske and his management group will be in Nashville this Thursday afternoon to potentially sign a contract for a downtown street race in 2021.
“We’re going to fly down Thursday to meet the key people and decision makers, and hopefully it could be a great market for us,” Penske told RACER.com on Tuesday afternoon. “I feel good and I would say we’re all excited.”
IndyCar ran the Nashville Speedway from 2001-2008 but there has been talk about coming back for a street race since 2017.
“Mark Miles and Stephen Starks have been in discussions with Nashville, and I wasn’t up to speed yet so they flew the Nashville people to Indy for qualifying,” continued Penske. “They brought some of the key leaders who are behind the event and put on a terrific presentation.
“The track looks great.”
Designed by Tony Cotman, the 2.1-mile layout will incorporate the famous Music City streets as well as the Cumberland River, using Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL Tennessee Titans, as a paddock.
It’s believed August is the month they’re looking at for the race.
Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp, told the Nashville Tennesean that: “It is not a done deal, but we are further along than we have ever been with this. This is my fourth iteration of having discussions about open-wheel, IndyCar-type racing here. This group (Music City Grand Prix) has done the best job and gotten it further down the field, but still has a ways to go. I’m hopeful, but it ain’t over til it’s over.”
Nashville has exploded in the sports world over the past decade, with the NFL, NHL hockey and as host of the NFL draft. Former IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is a resident who thinks (the street race) has a real shot at succeeding.
“It’s got a better chance than any other city in America,” said Bernard, who now manages singer Garth Brooks career. “It’s the new hot spot, the new Vegas. We’ve got over 20,000 hotel rooms and it’s become a destination city. Everything is right downtown and it’s got so much entertainment value. People that might not want to go to Iowa or the middle of Ohio (will) want to come to Nashville. They need to be smart about ticket prices and what they’re competing against, but I think it will be a big hit.”