On Wednesday Indycar dropped the news that it was planning a new event in Nashville, Tenn. for next August, a street course that crosses the famed Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge twice on a weird soup-ladle-shaped track. This is an interesting development as part of Roger Penske’s push for new exciting tracks since purchasing the series last year, and marks the first new street course on the Indycar calendar since 2013's Belle Isle Grand Prix revival.
The southern loop of the track will be run around the outside of the Tennessee Titans stadium parking lot before turning to cross the massive bridge across the Cumberland River, navigating a short and tight circuit on the north side of the bridge, then coming back across that bridge for a long curving start-finish “straight” that isn’t straight.
I am something of a skeptic of this layout, as it introduces a potentially very unsafe zone to crash. It seems incredibly unlikely that a crash would occur on the bridge causing an airborne car to land and become submerged in the river, and I’m sure Penske would have quick recovery boats and emergency divers on scene for such an eventuality, but I’d still hate to imagine such a scenario unfolding. The long braking zones and a lot of 90 degree corners might make for some interesting passing zones, however.
Interestingly, the long bridge double-straight has a pedestrian bridge for fans to cross over, or perhaps even watch the race unfold from. You can see the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge here on Google Maps.
The deal with the city of Nashville and the owners of the Titans stadium is guaranteed for at least three years, allowing some date equity and calendar stability to be built up.
I’m not sure that I have confidence that we’ll be feasibly attending motorsport events in large crowds by next summer, but we can always remain optimistic, I suppose. I do hope that this event, and Indycar in general, succeeds. I hope this takes off and becomes one of the all-time racing events. And more than anything, I hope it’s not as shitty as the infamous Baltimore Grand Prix track.