historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway is the second oldest operating motor
speedway in the United States. The only speedway with a longer history
of operations is the Milwaukee Mile, which held its first race in 1903.
The Fairgrounds Speedway's opening predates that of the Indianapolis
Motor Speedway by four years. The first automobile race held at
Nashville's Fairgrounds speedway took place at the dawn of the
automotive age on June 11, 1904. At that time, the track was
configured into a one and an eight-mile dirt oval. Soon automobile
races became an annual tradition and events would occur in conjunction with
the Tennessee State Fair until the 1940's. Pictured at right is the start
of a race at Fairgrounds Speedway from 1911.
1958, promoters Benny Goodman, Bill Donoho and Mark Parrish reconfigured the
track into a half-mile paved oval (1958 construction photo at left). On July 19, 1958, Charlie Griffin of
Chattanooga won the first race held on the new track. Weekly races
featuring both local and national drivers became
a fixture of the track along with the annual (later bi-annual)
the NASCAR Grand National / Winston Cup series. In
1969, the present 5/8-mile configuration was established with 35 degree banked
The tracks high banks generated a great deal of speed as evidenced by the
qualifying laps of the time period. The record for the 35 degree
configuration is held by NASCAR star Bobby Allison. The
Hueytown, Alabama based Allison qualified his Chevrolet Monte Carlo at a
blistering 116.932 mph for the 1972 Nashville 420. However,
the 35 degree banking proved to be too
treacherous for the local sportsman racers
and were modified after the 1972 season to the current day 18 degree banking.
grandstands (including the 1972 Nashville 420 pictured at left).
time and economics eventually lead Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway to be stricken
from the ranks of NASCAR's
Division in 1984. At the time Fairgrounds Speedway was owned by
California businessman Warner Hodgdon and his bankruptcy filing caused
NASCAR to pull its premier series from the track. The
track continued to host weekly NASCAR series racing
as well as the NASCAR Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series until the year
2000. Those races would move to the new Nashville
Superspeedway in 2001.
2020, the City of Nashville entered into discussions with
Bristol Motor Speedway / Speedway Motorsports, LLC, to explore the
possibility of bringing the track up to current NASCAR CUP Series standards.
These upgrades would include improvements to the grandstands as well as adding
garages and space for team hauler parking. The track would be managed by
Bristol Motor Sports and could possibly bring NASCAR racing back to the
track by the 2022 season. An artist’s interpretation on the improved
Fairgrounds Speedway can be seen at left. “Bristol Motor Speedway and
Speedway Motorsports are thrilled to take this step forward with Mayor
Cooper, the Fair Board, Metro Council and the neighborhood stakeholders,”
said Marcus Smith, president and chief executive officer of Speedway
Motorsports and Bristol Motor Speedway. “We can work together to transform
Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway into an amazing multipurpose entertainment
destination. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and go to work to fully
restore the speedway, recruit national events and breathe new life into a
venue that has a legendary status in auto racing history.”
Pentecost , Benny Quinn, Mike Alexander, Tony Roberts, Ray Binkley Jr., David Mudd along with the photo achieves of The Tennessean for
This website is
dedicated to the drivers, teams, track officials and fans that have made Nashville
Fairgrounds Speedway one of the south's great sporting attractions.
site is also dedicated to my parents for enduring many pre and post races hours
while I took photos, helped independent drivers in the pits and collected