The Excitement is Already Building

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Preparations are well underway. The excitement is palpable as the anticipation builds toward the day when all eyes of the open-wheel racing world will be watching. Let’s just hope that health restrictions will allow a big crowd to be on hand to take it all in.

Am I talking about the Indianapolis 500? Usually, I am – but not today. I’m talking about the upcoming Inaugural Music City Grand Prix to take place August 6-8. It is still over four months away, but they have already started with the track build in certain sections of the radically designed temporary street course. I say radically designed, because the circuit designed by Tony Cotman has two massively long straightaways that happen to go directly over a body of water – twice.

Track

Granted, the Cumberland River isn’t Lake Michigan or the Mississippi River – but it is large enough that it will make for a dramatic sight as the cars go both ways over the Korean Veterans Bridge, shown below with the unique winner’s trophy.

Bridge

What will the racing be like? While there is great anticipation for the event, I’ve heard mixed predictions on how well this circuit will race. The Chamber of Commerce and the optimistic IndyCar fan say that it will be some of the most fantastic racing we’ve ever seen. Others don’t have quite as bright an outlook.

The long straightaways over the bridge are wide enough to handle three lanes of automobile traffic going each way along with a bike path. But after they install the necessary barriers to separate both lanes, and the protective fencing to keep cars from flying off into the river (like a scene from Driven) – will there be sufficient room to navigate a pass at speeds approaching 200 mph? Quite honestly, it’s tough to imagine, but I guess we’ll see in August.

The straightaways across the Cumberland connect an urban neighborhood just south of Broadway; with Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans. The paddock area will be in the stadium parking lot, and the pits will be in the shade of the stadium.

To many attendees, the racing will seem secondary. Like I have always imagined Long Beach, since I’ve never actually attended the race there – I think many will just be showing up for the party.

I am probably more than a little biased, since I live here – but this is going to be a fun event. Nashville has shown on multiple occasions that they know how to put on great events…especially outdoor events. Remember the NFL Draft of 2019? They claim to have had over 600,000 attend over the three days. I’m not sure how they went about arriving at that figure, but based on the photo below; suffice it to say there were a lot of people there.

NFLDraft-Nashville-crowd

I didn’t go. I never even thought about going. We’re too old for events like that, but I know many that did. They all said they had a blast and it was very-well coordinated. That didn’t surprise me. This is an event town and they know what they are doing.

I can also assure you that the ownership group of this event is very impressive. Not only are there key local people with great business reputations involved with this race, but the list of celebrities that have jumped on board is pretty impressive…and growing.

The list includes Stanton Barrett (yes, the same Stanton Barrett that drove in four IndyCar races in 2009 and failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 that same year). He may or may not have been a very good driver, but he seems to be quite the businessman. The godson of Paul Newman currently heads up Huski Chocolate – sponsor for Marcus Ericsson. Other noteworthy owners of this event include Scott Borchetta (Big Machine label Group), Kix Brooks (Brooks & Dunn) and Justin Timberlake. Most recently, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. joined the ownership group for the Music City Grand Prix.

So many times, we read about people who go to an IndyCar race and all they can talk about is the lack of promotion. They talk about how they see no ads in the airport and no billboards on the way to the track. They watch the local news in their hotel room and see nothing about the upcoming race. When they go out to dinner, their server knows nothing about any race that they are in town for.

That is not the case in Nashville. Tickets went on sale last month and there was a huge marketing blitz to go along with ticket sales. For the last month, I’ve seen billboards, TV commercials and even ads creeping onto my Facebook timeline. While listening to sports-talk radio on my way home from work, I usually hear at least one ad each day – sometimes two – for the Music City Grand Prix. Trust me when I say this; Nashville is buzzing about this race. It doesn’t hurt that a two-time series champion lives right here in Music City – Josef Newgarden.

Friends that know I am into IndyCar have told me that they have already bought tickets, and are going to go check out what I’ve been talking about for years. If the event is half as good as the marketing and promotion leading up to it has been – we are all in for a treat.

I am in the vast minority of people that see no need for live music at a race. To me the racing is the entertainment and there could be no sweeter music than the sound of cars going by. But to most, having live music onsite is important. If that’s your thing, you will be in heaven at the Music City Grand Prix. I don’t believe they’ve published the list of musical acts that will be performing, but I’m confident that they will be good – and not just country music. There will be something for everyone.

I’m not wild about the starting time of Sunday’s race, which is 4:30 local time. I’m not worried about darkness, but I feel for those who can’t come from out of town. I know many from Indianapolis who have said they want to come, but a 4:30 green flag means they won’t be getting home until after 1:00 am on Monday morning (losing an hour with the time change). That’s a tall order for those that have to be at work Monday morning. I am afraid the starting time is going to cut into attendance.

Schedule

If the starting time is the only negative I can find about this event – that’s a pretty good thing.

Since I started this website in May 2009, I’ve dreamed of being able to cover an IndyCar race in my hometown, and actually getting to sleep in my own bed. We went to every IndyCar race held at Nashville Superspeedway, but the last one took place in July of 2008, about ten months before starting this site. So, this will be a first.

The last time Susan and I traveled to an inaugural event, it turned out to be the farewell event as well – The Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA in 2015. We plan to go to this event for years to come. For more information on the Music City Grand Prix, click here.

George Phillips

9 Responses to “The Excitement is Already Building”

  1. Brandon Wright Says:

    Yep, I was all set to come until I saw the start time. Especially with the time change, it’s just too late for me to get home at a reasonable time. I may change my mind and just deal with a rough day at work but I already have at least three races lined up this year so maybe not. Too bad, Nashville is one of my favorite cities and I was looking forward to visiting again.

  2. Looks great and our plans for flying over for the 2022 running are well advanced. Looking forward to visiting the city for the 1st time. Travelling internationally is just too fraught for this year. Agreed, the promotion is very thorough. Roll on August!!

  3. James T Suel Says:

    I think its going to be a great event. The start time is ridiculously too late. Not sure I understand that.. plan to go for sure, Louisville ky is not that far.

  4. Oliver W Says:

    What is the reason for such a late start time.

    • I have heard it’s the only available TV window. I believe the Olympics will be going on then, and that is an NBC property – so live airtime is very limited. Hopefully, this is a one-time occurrence. – GP

  5. There is nothing better than an IndyCar race in your own city. All I can say is enjoy it because there is no guarantee it will come back. The anticipation is so much fun. It will make the whole summer more fun. The energy seems more special when it’s your hometown race. Wait until the moment when the cars go out for the first practice on Friday and the look on the faces of people who are experiencing their first live event. It’s very memorable.

    • billytheskink Says:

      Seconded. Waking up in your own bed, driving just a few minutes to the circuit, spending all day there, and then going back to sleep in your own bed is an amazing experience. I was fortunate enough to be able to do it several times in the past and I hope to be able to do it again in the future.

  6. Lynn Weinberg Says:

    Thanks for the detailed info and your opinion as a Nashville resident. I have never attended a street race. When I look at the map, it seems like a City Festival, with a race going on in the background. This will be interesting for me, because I have no interest in live music, carnival rides and whatever else they have lined up. My husband and I are looking forward to this one!

  7. has Indycar ever raced over water (not just a bridge) before?

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