Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reality Bites NASCAR

If you’re not up to speed (ha ha, get it? Up to speed, oh I crack myself up) on Nashville’s racetrack controversy, temporarily kicked down the road by the Metro Council, read my previous posts here and here.

And now we have this piece of news involving one of the Nashville racetrack’s biggest boosters:
Baker Curb Racing, Middle Tennessee’s only full-time NASCAR team, has suspended operations indefinitely due to lack of funding.

Gary Baker, who co-owns the Nashville-based team with Mike Curb, said Saturday the team has not officially folded. He said it would reopen its doors if and when a sponsor is found.

But with the season less than a month away and no driver, crew or mechanics on board, Baker admitted the outlook is dismal.

“As it stands right now, we won’t be racing,” he said.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Baker, a veteran of four decades in the sport as a driver, marketing official, track owner and team owner. “Corporate America is scared to invest in the future.”

Umm, no. They just aren’t investing in NASCAR racing. They’re still spending $3 million for a 30-second Super Bowl spot. With NASCAR dying a slow death for a variety of reasons can you blame them? Apparently the free market fairies have spoken.

And then there’s this:

Baker said that if he could secure $1 million in sponsorship funds — considered a bare minimum for a team in NASCAR’s second-tier series — Baker Curb Racing could win this year’s Nationwide Series championship.

Yes and if only I would secure the winning Powerball numbers I would finally have my villa in Tuscany. Dangit, there is clearly something wrong with the world that this hasn’t happened yet!

I have to wonder if things might not have gone a little differently at Metro Council had this news hit the papers two weeks ago, before the “master plan” compromise. I wonder why it didn’t. Oh well, that’s all water under the bridge. Probably the Council would have acted the same way. But as I’ve said from day one, if you want to save the slab of concrete that you keep telling us is hallowed ground because someone famous once slept there (or raced there), then you have to show us it can make money. And right now it’s just not looking good for you guys.

We aren’t a historic town. Never have been. We routinely bulldoze historic buildings with impunity. All anyone cares about is progress and profits. That’s reality. Every year Nashville’s preservationists are told to step aside because we stand in the way of progress -- often by some of the same people who have been trying to save the Nashville racetrack. So now that the shoe is on the other foot it's been interesting, to say the least.

Fairgrounds redevelopment isn't dead; the issue will be back. And I suspect the mayor will ultimately get what he wants because the economics are on his side. Just a thought.