NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - IndyCar Series racing will return to Nashville next summer, the racing organization announced at a news conference on Wednesday.
The Music City Grand Prix will be held in August 6-8, 2021, on the streets and parking lots around Nissan Stadium.
"This is going to be the No. 1 destination for IndyCar outside of the Indy 500," said Josef Newgarden, who won the 2017 and 2019 IndyCar Series championship and is from Hendersonville.
Mayor John Cooper, race officials and IndyCar leaders made the announcement on Wednesday at a press conference near Nissan Stadium.
"IndyCar racing is going to be another jewel in our crown," said Cooper.
An announcement is expected on Wednesday that IndyCar racing will return to Nashville next year.
The 2.17-mile temporary racing circuit will use the area around Nissan Stadium with a lot of turns and straightaways and an international television audience of millions. Tens of thousands of fans are also expected to attend. The drivers will also race across the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge into the downtown area.
Two-time IndyCar Series champion and Hendersonville native Joseph Newgarden said the cars racing across the bridge will be the glamour shot to show off Nashville's skyline.
"It will be a pretty shot of the city when you see the cars going over the bridge," said Newgarden. "It's not only going to be fun to drive, but it will show off the town of Nashville the best way possible."
Next year will be the first time the IndyCar Series has raced in the Nashville area since 2008. The series staged races at Nashville Superspeedway in Wilson County from 2001-2008.
Cooper said because the race is a three-day event and attracts a worldwide audience, it could be even bigger than the CMA Music Festival.
"It's a festival, a festival that can really enrich our city to be an international destination, to be a platform for a lot of other exciting things to happen," said Cooper.
The Tennessee Titans are partnering with the Music City Grand Prix, hosting most of the race in the stadium's parking lots.
"Something like the Grand Prix is pitch perforce for what we are trying to do in making the stadium a cultural and entertainment hub for Nashville," said Titans President and CEO Burke Nihill.
The Music City is "one step closer" to bringing an annual NTT INDYCAR SERIES urban street race to Nashville.
The race is the first new city IndyCar has added to the schedule since 2013.
Cooper said the event is privately funded and would not cost the city any money.
"The three-day festival is an important private-funded investment in our city," said Cooper.
The event is expected to draw tens of thousands of people ready to spend on hotels, restaurants and honky-tonks to the tune of $20 million. It will also require hundreds of Metro Police officers, fire personnel and public works employees cleaning up the trash left behind. The mayor emphasized several times the city will not be on the hook for any money.
"As a privately funded event, the Music City Grand Prix will cover its own police, fire and public works costs. All costs are covered," said Cooper.
Since part of the course takes racers over the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge, some areas surrounding the bridge may be affected, but Cooper points out the disruption to traffic will be minimal.
"People are going to have plenty of notice and, in the end, not that much," said Cooper. "I think the Titans willingness as the primary sponsor, that makes so much of this possible. It's really on this side of the river and on the Titans property itself with a minimum of disruption."
The race is seen as a catalyst to the city's economic recovery.
"It's nice to get a bit of good news," Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp President & CEO Butch Spyridon said on Tuesday prior to the official announcement.
The race is expected to draw $20 million in visitor spending over a three-day period in August, which translates to big money for nearby business owners along Lower Broadway.
"We are all excited about events coming to the city and getting some revamped tourism. We are all about it," said Adriana Orsini, who represented several of the honky tonks along Lower Broadway, on Tuesday.