NASCAR's Initial Return to Nashville May Not Happen on the Track

Reports put the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards banquet in Nashville in 2019.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Celebration
David Becker—Getty Images

The latest attempt to lure NASCAR back to Nashville centers arounds the annual Cup Series Awards banquet. A Sports Business Journal article cited by sister publication Nashville Business Journal claims the annual event is expected to move from Las Vegas to Nashville as early as this year.

The report comes less than a month after a deal was struck between Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway operator Tony Formosa in an attempt to bring at least one NASCAR national series to the race track.

“What we’ve done is started the first step to do just that, bring NASCAR back to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville,” SMI President and CEO Marcus Smith said during an interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We still have some work to do. We have a great relationship with the city and with the Formosas, who have been operating the weekly program at the race track really successfully. So now we’ve got to work with the city and other people to  bring this vision to life and get it ready for the big time. We’re working hard with the city with the goal of bringing the Fairgrounds back to life.”

Speedway Motorsports Inc. is the parent company of several tracks that host races by NASCAR’s top series.

Fairgrounds Speedway, formerly known as NASCAR Speedway, hosted NASCAR’s premier series through 1984 and the other two national series, the NASCAR Xfinity and Truck series, through 2000 before they moved to a new Nashville Superspeedway near Lebanon, Tennessee. Nashville Superspeedway has since shut down.

“Given its status as the home of country music, the addition of races and an awards gala would quickly vault [Nashville] back into one of NASCAR’s most important markets,” the Sports Business Journal article reads.

The report of the Cup Series banquet in Nashville puts the event at Music City Center.

Getty Images for NASCAR

Celebrating in Sin City.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps speaks during the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards banquet at The Wynn Las Vegas on Nov. 29.

The event was held at The Wynn Las Vegas the last 10 years, with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority paying NASCAR $400,000 to host the event most of those years. The LVCVA didn’t pay the subsidy in 2018, but NASCAR held the banquet for its top series there last year anyway. Representatives from NASCAR and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation have declined opportunities to comment on the reported negotiations to bring the event to Nashville.

Charlotte, North Carolina, the locale for most NASCAR Cup Series race teams and the NASCAR Hall of Fame is also reportedly in the running to host the awards banquet. Charlotte hosted the 2018 joint awards banquet for the Xfinity and Truck series.