Too soon to discuss Nashville changes, IndyCar says
The NTT IndyCar Series isn’t ready to discuss whether it will ask the promoters of the Nashville Grand Prix to make changes to the street circuit’s layout in an effort to reduce the high rate of attrition and caution periods witnessed over the first two events. Less than a week removed from an event that’s been dubbed as “Crashville,” a series spokesperson tells RACER that more time is needed to assess the event — while preparing to hold the final three races of the year in the next 30 days — and any requests that might be made to the event organizers would be reserved for the off season. The race made its debut in 2021 amid great fanfare and became an instant favorite for teams looking to entertain sponsors with Nashville’s vibrant night life. Despite nine incidents in the inaugural race that accounted for just over 40 percent of the laps being run under caution, crowds were healthy and optimism was high for an improved return. Using feedback from IndyCar teams and drivers, alterations were made to a number of sections around the 11-turn, 1.7-mile downtown circuit, compliments were paid for the improved sightlines created in some areas, but the eight cautions and an increase to 50-percent attrition and nearly 50 percent of the race taking place behind the pace car reinforced how costly Nashville has been for IndyCar’s teams during the first and second visits. Based on figures provided by teams that participated in Sunday’s 80-lap race, the least expensive repair bill was $35,000 and the highest could reach $180,000, with an estimated total of $860,000-$880,000 of damage done across the field in one afternoon. The majority of the contact and crashes have occurred on both sides of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, with entanglements happening at Turn 4 — after leaving the portion of the track that surrounds Nissan Stadium, home to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans — and upon returning across the bridge into Turn 9. Signed to a three-year contract, the Nashville Grand Prix has one more year to play host to IndyCar before a new agreement would be required. Any changes to the street circuit’s layout would require approval from the city, and as local outlets have reported, the Titans are looking at building a new stadium in the same general area where the current stadium is located. The new stadium could make use of the space reserved for the IndyCar paddock, and possibly some of the real estate where the Turn 9 through Turn 3 sections are used. If the Titans were to move forward with a new stadium, it would not be expected to happen prior to the 2023 edition of the Nashville race.