IndyCar race around Nissan Stadium in Nashville eyed (3rd Update)
|With races on NBCSN and little exposure for the City of Nashville and a potential title sponsor, this race was done before it started|
UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. A proposed Grand Prix of Nashville outside Nissan Stadium is "no longer in the works" due to "logistical issues."
Metro Sports Authority Dir Monica Fawknotson, speaking for Nashville Mayor Megan Barry's administration, today said that "Metro has halted talks with the race's promoters and has stopped pursuing the event."
The race was proposed by former Pocono Raceway President Joe Mattioli and former Baker Curb Racing CEO Matt Crews. The group had said that they were "interested in partnering with either IndyCar or IMSA" TENNESSEAN.com
|1.7-mile track laid out by Tony Cotman around Nissan Stadium may be too Mickey Mouse for IndyCar|
11/10/17 A proposed Grand Prix of Nashville race that would run through the streets of Music City has gained momentum with the addition of more investors and board members from the entertainment industry, according to Matt Crews, executive vice president of the Grand Prix Association of Nashville.
IndyCar, IMSA and even Formula E are on the group's wish list of potential race series partners.
Crews is the key member of the association led by former Pocono Raceway executive Joe Mattioli that hopes to stage a big-time street race in Nashville by 2020.
“We’ve got some additional investors involved from the state of Tennessee and people who used to be at Nashville,” Crews said. “We want to make sure we have the right partners. It takes expertise and connections to make this happen.
“The entertainment industry is a huge piece of this. Rod Essig, who runs the Nashville CAA (Creative Artist Association) office, which is a huge mover and shaker in the Nashville community, is on board. Kix Brooks is one of our board members and he is half one of the the most popular duos in country music history (Brooks & Dunn). They are big in supporting this event.
“Nashville is an entertainment city and the race is the background noise to the party. We are a festival city.”
A key issue, however, is striking a deal with a sanctioning body. Both Nissan’s and Bridgestone’s North American headquarters are based in Nashville. But those two companies do not compete in a racing series together.
“We are still walking that tightrope to find the right sanctioning body that fits the Nashville landscape and finding the right weekend that fits at the right time,” Crew said. “The sanctioning body is an important piece to this but it’s a piece.
“I’ll even throw in Formula E. The largest selling electric car in the world is manufactured here in Nashville. So, there are a lot of different sanctioning bodies that make sense for Nashville.
“We don’t have any commitments from a sanctioning body right now.”
IndyCar president of Competition and Operations Jay Frye believes Nashville would be a great market for the series … someday.
“Would it be something we would be interested in at some point? Sure,” Frye said. “Firestone is based there, and that is important but there is nothing going on with Nashville right now as far as IndyCar is concerned.” AutoWeek
06/20/17 IndyCar CEO Miles told Motorsport.com: “We weren’t involved in the process that led to the event proposal being submitted to Mayor Megan Barry’s office, nor have we had direct communication with the people being named as prospective promoters.
“That said, we now look forward to having conversations with city officials and prospective promoters, because Nashville does continue to be an interesting market to us in the right circumstances.”
06/16/17 A group led by veteran racing promoter Joe Mattioli III has signed a memorandum of understanding with Metro officials to try to bring a high-level road race to the area around Nissan Stadium.
Backers of the Grand Prix of Nashville presented their concept to the Metropolitan Sports Authority Thursday morning. They plan to build a 1.7-mile track around Nissan Stadium and are aiming to host their first race -- which will be surrounded by various music and entertainment attractions -- in the spring of 2019.
And the proposed Grand Prix of Nashville would either be an IndyCar or IMSA race, according to co-promoters Joe Mattioli and Matt Crews.
"We are keeping our options open and having ongoing discussions," said Mattioli, the former president of Pocono Raceway, told The Tennessean.
"Both sanctioning bodies have strong interest about being in Nashville, but we're being very diligent about making that decision.
"Both have indicated their excitement about the market. Really, I think it's a toss-up right now."
In addition to Mattioli -- a former longtime president of Pocono International Raceway who also has been involved in races at the Fairgrounds Speedway -- the team pushing the race includes Andy Moats of Pinnacle Financial Partners, former NASCAR team owner Gary Baker and Rod Essig of Creative Artists Agency as well as ex-McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi (who also has owned race teams) and John Hope Bryant, the founder, chairman and CEO of the Operation HOPE nonprofit.
The proposed track has been designed by Tony Cotman, who has worked worldwide and has been involved in IndyCar races on temporary circuits in Baltimore, Edmonton and Sao Paulo, among others.
“Our vision is to make every day ‘Race Day in Nashville’ and make the Grand Prix a year-round international motorsports partnership that celebrates and adds to Nashville's rich entertainment traditions and deepens the value for its residents and visitors,” Essig said in a statement.
"Our goal at the Grand Prix of Nashville is to build on past successes like this past weekend," said Crews, executive vice president of the Grand Prix of Nashville and former CEO of Baker/Curb Racing, pointing to the massive crowd that descended downtown for the NHL's Stanley Cup Final and CMA Music Festival. "Nashville throws a great party, like this recently Stanley Cup has shown us, and like the NHL All-Star Game last year."
The next step is for GPNTN LLC to raise $2.5 million in initial private funding with no financial obligations from the city. Nashville is also the headquarters of Bridgestone/Firestone, the tire manufacturer for IndyCar.
A spokesman for the organizers said they are aiming to sign a long-term agreement in the next three months and that they’re working to make the financial case for the project in order to move forward. The Nashville Business Journal reported Thursday that the tab for infrastructure investments to put on the race will be between $6 million and $10 million and that Mattioli said race weekends could have an economic impact of $40 million to $60 million.
The Mattioli group’s efforts aren’t the first to try to bring a big auto race to Nashville’s east bank. In addition to needing to find a gap in the city’s packed spring event calendar, the organizing team also might have to address a potential conflict with IndyCar’s Grand Prix of Alabama, which has taken place in April every year since 2010. A spokesman for IndyCar did not return a request for comment about that issue and the parties’ talks in general prior to publication Thursday afternoon. Geert De Lombaerde/Nashville Post