"Our plan is not to move another race out of Dover"
Despite losing a Cup Series race in 2021, fans shouldn’t expect this to happen again at the Monster Mile.
“Our plan is not to move another race out of Dover,” said Denis McGlynn, president and chief executive officer of Dover Motorsports.
There won’t be the usual two Cup Series races here next year. Dover Motorsports will host one here and the second at Nashville Superspeedway in Tennessee. Both race tracks are owned by Dover Motorsports.
The Superspeedway will host its first Cup Series race in a decade in 2021. Nashville is “gonna be the hottest market in NASCAR,” McGlynn said.
He said this move will freshen things up and kill three birds with one stone.
“The race fans, the race teams, the broadcast partners -- everybody is looking for a way to rejuvenate the schedule to try to drive growth with the sport,” he said.
Mayor Robin Christiansen said the city will see an economic loss, but it stands by the decision as a way to bring life back into NASCAR.
“It’s going to have an effect on our local economy, but the NASCAR races, the two that we’ve had, haven’t been as well attended or generated the revenue that they did in the heyday of NASCAR,” Christiansen said.
Dover has already lost expected revenue from the cancellation of the summer races and Firefly Music Festival. The mayor said he is optimistic that the city will cover those losses once retailers and other businesses reopen and start to use utilities again.
“We’re coming back, and Lord willing, we’ll be back where we need to be shortly,” he said.
Judy Diogo, president of the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, said businesses ranging from restaurants to gas stations benefit from the race weekends. People often come to visit Dover and will travel throughout the state for multiple days.
“There are many businesses in the area who have counted on the NASCAR races to help them reach their profit projections,” she said. “With so many of our businesses being closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I think they will really miss having two races in 2021.”
Beyond businesses, many organizations and nonprofits depend on the race weekend to bring in donations. Members volunteer and Dover Motorsports will give them a donation in return.
MSgt. Theodore R. Cameron volunteered at Dover International Speedway with Dover Air Force Base early in his career. As an airman, he volunteered with the booster club, raising money for internal events like Christmas parties and potlucks.
With Dover Top III, a private organization for senior enlisted officers, Cameron said they depend on the donations to fund community programs that provide mentorship to youth or scholarships for college students. The funding primarily helps cover costs for yearly ceremonies and banquets that recognize officers who have been promoted to master sergeant, the highest tier in the enlisted force, and senior master sergeant.
Cameron said Top III may have to charge more for tickets or scale back.
“It’s going to be very difficult for us,” he said. “We’re not a fundraising organization, so we utilize those volunteer opportunities as much as we can to get us through the year. To have one go away, it means that we have to adjust how we’re supporting the wing when it comes to the different events we have going on.”
While Diogo said she is sad to see the race leave, she hopes the venue can provide more opportunities for tourism. “Not many communities have a wonderful venue like Dover International Speedway right in the heart of their community,” she said. “As hard as it may be to see right now, I believe this is an opportunity for central Delaware – we just have to rev up our way of thinking to find some new possibilities.”
McGlynn said Dover Motorsports doesn’t have an anything scheduled to replace the lost Dover race.
“We’re always open to any opportunity to generate revenue here at this property,” he said. “Firefly is a perfect example of that. It’s just that there’s only so many opportunities to find events that you can make money with, with a facility that’s so specifically designed for motor sports.”
The Nashville Superspeedway’s 1.33-mile concrete track was built in 2001 on about 1,000 acres, and has 25,000 permanent grandstand seats and lights for night racing. The property has played host to the Xfinity Series, Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, NTT Indycar Series and others.
Cup Series competitors who’ve notched wins at Nashville include Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer and Austin Dillon.
“Thanks to the collaboration of Dover Motorsports and our broadcast partners, we are excited to bring NASCAR racing back to Nashville, a place where the passion for our sport runs deep,” said NASCAR president Steve Phelps.
“The Nashville market is a vital one for our sport, and bringing NASCAR Cup Series racing to Nashville Superspeedway will be an integral building block in helping us further deliver on our promise in creating a dynamic schedule for 2021,” he added.
Mike Tatoian, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Dover Motorsports, said splitting a race is a good thing.
“Our company is excited about the terrific opportunity to not only host a NASCAR Cup Series race weekend, but opening our Nashville facility will enable us to host other exciting forms of racing and entertainment options,” he said.
“We are also proud that our long history with NASCAR will continue at the Monster Mile in 2021, and we also look forward to hosting the ninth Firefly Music Festival next summer,” Tatoian added.
Pete Bradley, president of Kent County Tourism, said Firefly has been important economically. “I’m hopeful down the line, they’re very creative guys and a very innovative company, that we can have future events like that,” he said.
Many businesses in the tourism industry have already been hit hard by the pandemic. Bradley said he thinks tourism will start up again slowly, with many people taking road trips. As people warm up to traveling, organizations at the state, county and city levels will be putting their heads together, he said.
“We’re all going to work together and do our best to help support and market this county and the entire state,” he said. “We’re all in this together.”
Dover Post reporter Emily Lytle contributed to this report.