IndyCar Officially Adding Nashville Street Race For Next August
IndyCar and the Music City Grand Prix today will announce a deal to form a new privately funded downtown Nashville street race that will begin in August ’21. This will be the first event added to the series’ calendar under Roger Penske’s stewardship. The race will be part of a three-day festival that will take place Aug. 6-8 next year on a 2.17-mile, 11-turn temporary track where cars are expected to hit up to 200 miles per hour. The circuit will include a portion across both sides of the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge -- making it one of the only races in the world where part of the circuit is over a body of water. Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but it is for three years with a two-year option. Annual sanction fees paid to IndyCar for a street race typically cost the promoter low seven figures. In total, startup costs for a privately funded street race like this should run around $10M. The MCGP will be owned and operated by a newly formed group named 615GP LLC, which includes local business people such as Phillips Infrastructure Holdings Chair Teddy Phillips, Clayton Homes President & CEO Kevin Clayton, incoming NASCAR team Owner Justin Marks and Big Machine Label Group President & CEO and longtime motorsports backer Scott Borchetta, among others. THE DAILY first reported in June that the MCGP had been revived and was working on a deal for ’21.
TITANS A PARTNER IN RACE: The Titans are also involved in the event as a financially invested partner, though not an equity stake owner. The race will start and finish adjacent to Nissan Stadium, and the team paddock will be based on the stadium’s grounds. Stadium suites will be open to a unique type of premium seating that will include looking out the back of the suite to see the race (as opposed to the front view of the suite which is the football field). Event COO Jason Rittenberry noted there will not be any conflict with a potential Titans home preseason game, as the MCGP has exclusivity for the same race weekend during the first years.
BETTING VIRUS IS CONTROLLED: The MCGP is making a bet that the coronavirus will be under control within the next 11 months by holding a new event of this size. However, Rittenberry said, "We fully anticipate being in a very different place this time next year, and as such, it’s full speed ahead." He added, "We do have a plan and are very cognizant that there is a pandemic still here in Nashville and across the country, but we’ll be prepared any local guidelines that may exist at that time. ... As far as the financial viability and how we plan to make this profitable, our investors are looking at it as a long-term investment, and the best-case scenario is to break even or make money in the first year. But that’s not our primary goal; our primary goal is to provide an amazing and great guest experience.”
HITTING A DESIRED MARKET: IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said that the series has had its eye on Nashville as a market it wanted to expand to for several years -- the MCGP previously tried to start up under a previous group of execs before coming up short in ’17 and going dormant for a couple years before resurfacing this year with new leadership. Miles added that Roger Penske “has a very discerning eye when it comes to IndyCar events because he’s seen them all for so many years.” That makes it more notable that Nashville will be the first new event added since Penske bought IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rittenberry called that “absolutely a huge honor for us.” He noted this is also the first new street race added to IndyCar’s calendar since ’13.
SPONSORSHIP PLANS IN PROGRESS: Rittenberry said that sponsors, including a title partner, will be sought out but have not been yet. In addition to the club suites at Nissan Stadium, premium seating options will include Club RPM, a VIP experience and on-site party for up to 500 people. There will also be a membership initiative called The Founders for up to 1,000 fans that includes tickets plus other amenities such as gifts and merchandise. Rittenberry added that the event was extremely challenging to set up, as street races often are, as evidenced by the fact that it took multiple years to make happen. Among the toughest parts was just finding a date on the calendar that worked for both the city and IndyCar.