NASCAR finalizes plans for Champion’s Week in Nashville
NASCAR is just over a month from its first Champion’s Week in Nashville and the sanctioning body plans to bring a different vibe to Music City after holding the event for a decade in Las Vegas.
Champion’s Week, featuring the premier series awards banquet, will take place Dec. 3-5 in the increasingly popular and sports-heavy city that is synonymous with country music.
Jill Gregory, NASCAR executive vice president and chief marketing and content officer, said the sanctioning body evaluated multiple cities, including Charlotte, before landing on Nashville. She said the move was made independently of the effort by track promoter Speedway Motorsports to bring top-level NASCAR racing back to the city.
NASCAR has lined up several new events, gained commitments from nearly a dozen sponsors to activate, and convinced the city to shut down city streets so drivers can do burnouts in their cars, just as they did in Las Vegas.
“We try to take a step back and identify opportunities and how to keep events fresh, so we did the same thing here,” Gregory said. “We took a step back and thought about, ‘What are our opportunities? What do fans want?’ We talked to the industry about the move to Nashville and obviously it’s a vibrant, growing city with a big music scene and a lot of sports, so it made a lot of sense.”
The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. said earlier this year that it is expecting 10,000 to 20,000 visitors for Champion’s Week. The group has allotted $100,000 to help NASCAR offset rent for the ceremony at Music City Center.
NASCAR is as ingrained with country music as any sport in the U.S., and that connection will be leveraged during the week, including a “NASCAR Night at the Opry” at the famous Ryman Auditorium that will feature performances by country artists including Rascal Flatts. PNC Bank is the presenting sponsor of that event.
NASCAR will host a fan fest all three days at the Riverfront Park in downtown Nashville. Ten sponsors will activate at the fan fest including PNC, Sugarlands Moonshine, Monster Energy, Coca-Cola, Mars, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, Gander Outdoors and Pit Boss Grills. NASCAR is selling fan packages, but it wasn’t ready last week to provide the number of packages sold.
While the event nears, Speedway Motorsports continues to seek a deal for NASCAR to return national series racing to the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, where NASCAR held races for decades. That proposal and the awards ceremony have combined to make Nashville feel like an increasingly important market for NASCAR.
Still, Gregory said the switch to Nashville by NASCAR is not directly tied to Speedway Motorsports’ efforts.
“There’s similarities because Nashville is a city that has an inherent connection with our fans,” Gregory said. “Some of Nashville’s biggest stars are in country music and we have a ton of crossover between our fans and Nashville, so it made sense for Champion’s Week and that was the driving factor.”