NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Wedgewood-Houston community members are coming together in opposition of a proposal to redevelop the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.
Neighbors said they already deal with noise issues from local and regional races at the track, and traffic issues from soccer games at Geodis Park. They’re concerned the addition of NASCAR races and concerts at a renovated speedway would only make the problems worse.
“Most of us just love the area,” long-time resident Heidi Basgall Favorite said. “We love how quiet it is, believe it or not, and how convenient it is to everything else.
“We are very concerned about the expansion proposal, which would be a dramatic change for the area.”
Basgall Favorite said the track could produce decibel levels near 120 with unmuffled NASCAR races. She can already hear sounds from the racetrack with the current muffler restriction.
Basgall Favorite is leading the effort against the proposed Bristol Motor Speedway redevelopment at the historic racetrack by forming a group called Neighbors Opposing Track Expansion. She said more than 100 people who live near the speedway are now involved in the effort due to concerns over infrastructure, sound and cost of the project.
“What they are proposing will blow all of this out of the water and that should concern everybody, not just us,” Basgall Favorite said.
Bristol Motor Speedway has hired Norm Partin to help them with the proposal effort to take over the Fairgrounds Speedway beginning in 2024. He grew up in Wedgewood-Houston and said race fans want to see NASCAR return to the short track for the first time in 40 years.
Before major events can be held at the site, Partin said a lot of work and investment must be made at the speedway. The proposal includes building a new 30,000-person grandstand, redesigning the track to make it safer drivers and creating a fan-village style concourse.
Partin said Bristol also plans to spend millions of dollars to build a sound wall at one of the corners to block sound from entering the nearby neighborhoods.
There will still only be 10 race weekends at the speedway each year, Partin said, but that will include one or two new NASCAR events. The local and regional events will still require mufflers on all cars.
“It means heads in beds in hotel rooms,” Partin said about the impact of the proposal. “They are going to bring tons of people here once or twice per year that benefits the city. Plus, there are going to be other events (such as concerts) here that will sell tickets and do things that are not motorsports.”
The new track would also allow the Fairgrounds Speedway to host driver academies and other events that Partin said neighbors would likely not even notice but will help boost the economy.
“It is important that we come together and thing about ways that this proposal is good for the neighborhood, good for the city, good for the fans,” neighbor Kyle Frohock said.
Frohock said his family understood what it meant to live near a speedway when they moved to the area 15 years ago, including not being able to hear each other having conversation on their back porch when a race is happening. However, they do not want even louder cars coming to the area.
“Those people come in for a moment to experience something,” Frohock said about race fans. “We live here all the time. It is part of our lived experience as a neighborhood.”
Frohock said he would like to see Bristol Motor Speedway sign a community agreement with different neighborhood groups before a final proposal is brought up by Metro Council, similar to the one Nashville SC released before beginning construction. He said that’s helped the soccer team have an overall impact positive impact on the area.
A public meeting was held Thursday night for people to learn more about the proposal and voice their opinions. Comments will also be accepted by emails to the Fair Commission and Metro Council members leading up to the next meeting on Jan. 5, 2023.