|Whoever said silence is golden didn’t know anything about racetracks.
For a racetrack, silence is fatal.
And the somber silence that hung over Nashville Superspeedway this year is apparently destined to continue next season.
Some summer rumors about new life for the track were apparently just that – rumors – as the gleaming facility that opened with such promise 12 years ago continues to sit idle.
The Superspeedway, nestled in sleepy Gladeville on the Rutherford-Wilson County border, is Dover Motorsports’ failed Field of Dreams. Dover built it, but they didn’t come.
“They,” being fans.
Attendance was a flop from Opening Day in 2001 until the final race in 2011 when Dover finally surrendered and suspended operations.
Why didn’t the track draw? For some of the same reasons that other tracks are struggling all around the country: rotten economy and rotten racing. That, plus trying to sell minor-league racing in a big-league sports market where Titans and Predators prowl.
The combination was too much to overcome.
Dover has indicated that the track is for sale, but who wants to buy a racetrack in this economy? Especially one that folded because it couldn’t draw flies.
Back in the summer there were whispers that the Indy Racing League might return an IndyCar Series race to the track. The IRL raced at the Superspeedway for eight years and drew respectable crowds. Respectable, at least, compared to the anemic turnouts for the second- and third-tier NASCAR races that comprised the rest of the track’s bland menu.
But last week the IRL announced its 2013 schedule and Gladeville’s not on it.
The second rumor was that NASCAR star Tony Stewart might buy the facility, build a dirt track on it, and bring back some lower-level NASCAR racing. Stewart, who owns some other dirt tracks, has done a considerable amount of testing at the Superspeedway and reportedly likes the venue.
However, next season’s NASCAR schedules have been posted and the Superspeedway is nowhere to be found.
While it would be possible for Stewart or someone else to operate the track without any IRL or NASCAR races, that seems unlikely.
Equally unlikely is the likelihood of drag racing coming in. A drag strip was included in Dover’s initial blueprints, but no drag-racing organizations have expressed interest.
If racing ceases at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway at the end of the season it is possible that the Superspeedway could host some of the Fairgrounds’ former events next year. Possible, but again not likely.
“It would be too costly for local-division racing,” says Terrell Davis, editor of Middle Tennessee Racing News. “The Superspeedway is not suited for that type of racing, and nobody’s going to build a short track out there anytime soon, given the current economy.”
Although there was no racing at the Superspeedway this year, Dover generated a smattering of revenue by leasing the track on a day-by-day basis to various NASCAR teams for testing. That won’t produce much of a return on an estimated $100 million investment, but right now no other options exist.
And so the Superspeedway’s gloomy silence continues. Turnstiles rust, and weeds grow in vacant parking lots built to hold thousands of enthusiastic fans.
Dover’s Field of Dreams remains a nightmare.