Loud Music is a $40 Fine

Just my personal blog.

October 19, 2007

Music City Motorplex: What’s Wrong?

Since I gave up being the webmaster for the racetrack at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds (now called Music City Motorplex), I pretty much stopped going to the races there. Apparently, I’m not alone. Their “experiment” last year of having the races on Friday was a big failure, and it’s obvious that they didn’t recover from it this year.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I went to the “Southern 300” this past Sunday. First off, if you’re gonna put a number in the name of the race, it needs to have some relationship with the number of laps or miles or even kilometers. The Southern 300 used to be a 300-lap race for the premier division at the track. Today, it’s a 200-lap late model race, a 100-lap truck race, and a 75 lap street modified (now called grand national) race. Where you get “300” out of that I have no idea. And they’re doing the same with the All American 400 next month. It’s not really a 400-lap race.

Anyway, this season I went to a few races. Car counts are about what they were last season, which is just barely above a dozen. I don’t know if it’s the officiating, the purse or what, but back when Bob Harmon was running the show, 30 late models was a low number.

Also, the few races I went to, there were a couple of cars that dominated the race. Boring. Boring racing will cause fans to not come back in droves. I don’t know if they’re using crate engines or if they’ve gone back to letting teams build their own, but they need to equalize the cars better.

I’m not sure what the track needs. All I know is that there doesn’t seem to be the “spark” that used to be there. They had (yet again) live music before the race. I hope those folks played for free; I’d hate to think that they’re paying performers to come out and perform in front of the 50 people who arrived two hours early. The crowd ended up being pretty good by the time the races started, but for the 90 minutes before, there was no need to have a live band because there were so few people.

Actually, I can think of one thing the track needs: publicity. I just happened to remember that the Southern 300 was running that weekend from my prior visits to the track’s web site. They might have run ads in the newspaper, but I don’t get that rag so I don’t’ know. I listen regularly to the radio station that Norm Partin used to be on, but didn’t hear one single ad. Nothing on TV either.

As the person who created the first web site for the track, back in 1996, I think I’m qualified to comment on the state of the current web site. First off, if you’re using Firefox, you might as well just start Internet Explorer when you want to go to the site. I don’t know what the webmaster is doing, but the site looks awful in Firefox. Secondly, the site is too “noisy”. Yeah, I know they’ve got to have sponsors and stuff, but the layout is just messy. Thirdly, there’s not much historical info on the site, and what little there is is woefully out of date. I did a LOT of historical research for the web page; it’s sad to see that not much is on there now. And finally, I was at the track every Saturday night, posting updates on the web site as the races happened. Fans of the track who were out of town or no longer in Nashville always liked those in-race updates.

Now that I’m on a roll, another thing the track needs, and I hate to say it because I know the PA announcer, is a new announce team. I know they’re both doing the best they can, but they have two strikes against them: 1) they’re not really up to the level of Joe Williams and Malcolm West, and 2) you can’t hear what they’re saying anyway. Joe and Malcolm set the gold standard for announcers; they work incredibly well together (I believe they still announce the races at Nashville Superspeedway and Memphis Motorsports Park). They’re entertaining and they know what they’re talking about. And that PA has needed an overhaul for several years. But with the future of the lease in limbo, there’s no incentive for the current leaseholder to do any improvements to the PA or any of the facility.

But the biggest problem with the track is the Fair Board. Right now the big question is, will it continue to be a track after next year? The Fair Board seems to have their heads up their butts and actually asked folks if there still needed to be a track there or something else. And they’ve supposedly hired some type of consultant to give them recommendations on what to do with the property. Can you imagine the Nashville Sports Authority doing something like this to the arena or the stadium?

I don’t know what ideas our new mayor has regarding the track. All I know is it’s a part of racing history, NASCAR history, and Nashville history. It’d be a shame for it to be plowed under for a minor league ball park.

I guess the main conclusion here is that, while there are problems at the track, none of those can really be addressed fully until the Fair Board decides to give someone a long term lease.

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