Track Enterprises Remaining Nimble in Evolving Nashville

The times are a changin' at Fairgrounds Speedway but Bob Sargent is flexible


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There is a tremendous number of things taking place at and around Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway these days.

Chief amongst them is an agreement in principle between Mayor John Cooper and Speedway Motorsports that will bring a NASCAR Cup Series weekend to the venerable downtown short track for the first time since 1984.

Before that can happen, the agreement must be approved by the Metro City Council and Fair Board of Commissioners. That would then trigger a series of conversations to determine how best to renovate and restore the 117-year-old venue.

This is to say nothing of the monthly local racing program featuring Pro Late Models, Pro Trucks, Open Wheels, Pro Stocks, Front Runners, Legends and Bandoleros.

Right in the center of each of these conversations is Track Enterprises president Bob Sargent -- the current promoter of the monthly program, ARCA Racing Series weekend and All-American 400 weekend at the 0.596-mile.

In addition to overseeing the day-to-day management of Nashville Fairgrounds alongside general manager Scott Menlen, Sargent is also is also in frequent meetings with Speedway Motorsports to coordinate the potential future of the lease, while also working alongside Nashville Metro officials to make sure the venue is meeting all the parameters of the agreement with the city owned property.

"It's a challenge," Sargent said frequently in a conversation with Racing America on Wednesday while also using the word 'rewarding' about the many successes of Track Enterprises since taking over the lease before the 2020 season.

Last year required Sargent to pivot when the pandemic delayed or canceled races in Downtown Nashville. The renovation procedure could affect the schedule too, so Sargent has needed to be nimble and flexible.

Sargent has a schedule for 2022 with races set to air on Racing America but he has to keep backup plans for any new development, too.

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"Again, challenging but rewarding, right? I work really well with the Fair Board and with Jerry Caldwell and we're balancing pretty well the kind of dual requirements to put together the best schedule for right now while also assisting all the really exciting things that are happening in the future. We kind of have to work in two possible directions."

Bob Sargent

It's even more impressive when considering Track Enterprises also manages weekly racing, ARCA, USAC and CRA Super Series events across the Midwest and Southeast.

"I wasn’t sure that I wanted to spend so much extra time in Nashville," Sargent said. "Not because I didn’t want to, but I just didn’t want to do it unless we could do it right. I was hesitant. But it has been rewarding, especially right now, giving a very dedicated group of local racers a place to race 5-8 times a year."

The potential upcoming renovations, not to mention the arrival of a NASCAR weekend have created a lot of questions from local racers, but Sargent says the grassroots racer is front and center in everyone’s plan.

"The great thing is that Jerry Caldwell and Speedway Motorsports have expressed a commitment to local racing, and we're committed to local racing," Sargent said. "So, everyone is committed to making sure that this continues to be a premier destination for the local racer."

And that means making sure there is a place for them to park.

The current renders turn the space that is currently the back-pit gate into an extension of the community park. Perhaps, the back-pit gate could remain, or the pit area could move outside the new planned tunnel in Turns 3 and 4.

Either way, Sargent says he is confident pit parking will be addressed in a satisfying way.

"We're presenting many different plans to the city," Sargent said. "There are some flooding considerations we have to work around, stuff like that. The current renders have the pits outside of Turn 3. Either way, we're going to have something that works."

And whatever it looks like, it’ll air on Racing America.