Grandstands but not racetrack will be improved at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway

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Nashville’s Fairground Speedway will see approximately $2.5 million in improvements to its grandstands, but not to its venerable .596-mile paved racetrack.

The track, which is part of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds (also known as The Fairgrounds Nashville), is located just south of the city center.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series last raced there in 1984, while both the Xfinity and Truck series last raced there in 2000 before moving to the 1.333-mile Nashville Superspeedway in nearby Lebanon, Tenn., where the last NASCAR-sanctioned races were held in 2011.

But while the smaller Fairgrounds track will have better grandstand seating for its card of local weekend racing, don’t expect NASCAR to return there anytime soon.

According to The Tennessean newspaper, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry announced that the city will invest $15 million into improving and updating the Fairgrounds complex, which has seen some of its property become antiquated or dilapidated.

The three-year improvement program will renovate five exposition buildings, demolish others and create new soccer fields and a dog park, according to The Tennessean.

The grandstands of the racetrack will receive “significant upgrades,” including restroom and entrance improvements, the newspaper said. But the track itself will not receive any upgrades.

That the track will not see any upgrades leaves race promoter Tony Formosa “very disappointed,” he told The Tennessean. Formosa said the overall racing facility needs improvements to fencing, walls, pits and the track speaker system.

“The racetrack has been the roots of the fairgrounds since it began, and the racetrack needs to carry on and it needs improvements,” Formosa told The Tennessean. “It’s in very bad shape.

“There’s a lot of things that could be done that wouldn’t cost a whole lot to do.”

Formosa has a contract to host races at the Fairgrounds through the remainder of 2016.

Construction on the overall project is slated to begin next year.

Click here to read the full story from The Tennessean.

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”