Dover Motorsports Chief Financial Officer Tim Horne made the comments to national motorsports journalist Mike Hembree who recently visited the Gladeville facility to research a story about the state of racing in the Nashville area.
Dover built and operated the Superspeedway for 10 years before suspending operations in 2011 due to poor attendance.
Over a year ago it was announced that industrial-development company Panattoni intended to buy the property, but that sale has yet to be finalized. Even if it buys the property, or a portion of it, Panattoni said it has no interest in operating the racetrack.
Horne told Hembree Dover invested “about $100 million” building the track in anticipation of getting a premier NASCAR Cup race at some point. It was unable to land a Cup race, however, and NASCAR’s lower-division races failed to draw. The track’s Indy Car races were moderately successful.
“We ran it for 10 years and lost money pretty much every year we operated out there,” Horne said. “If you’re going to make money you’d better have a Cup race.”
Dover currently leases the track’s parking lots to Nissan for car storage, and last year similarly leased space to Amazon to park trailers. The 1.3-mile racetrack is occasionally rented for “driving experiences” and the infield road course hosts amateur car-club events, none of which generate substantial revenue.
Despite Dover’s frustrating experience, Horne believes Nashville’s booming sports market would support a Cup race – if one could be secured.
That’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. NASCAR, termed by Sports Illustrated “America’s hottest sport” in the 1990’s, has hit a slump in recent years. Even such popular tracks as Bristol Motor Speedway, which once boasted 160,000-seat sellouts, is struggling with sagging attendance.
A stale economy, loss of star drivers, TV over-saturation and lackluster racing created a perfect storm that jolted NASCAR just as Dover opened the Superspeedway.
Wilson County has a financial stake in the track in the form of a bond investment. That debt would be assumed by a new owner, but who that owner might be, and what the future holds for the racetrack, remains a mystery.
Wright claims title: Lebanon’s Hunter Wright recently wrapped up the Legends Series championship at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway and now his sights set on a second title at Highland Rim.
Another Lebanon racer, Preston Young, won the Legends season finale and finished second in the championship standings. Two other Wilson County racers, Cody Fredricks and Jeff Young, finished 10th and 16th, respectively, in the standings.
Wright, a Wilson Central High junior, leads Highland Rim Speedway’s Legends standings with less than a month to go. The track’s final race is Nov. 11.
Complete standings in all divisions are posted on the tracks’ websites, along with the remaining dates on the Rim’s schedule.