IndyCar: A much-needed change is coming to the messiest circuit

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar
Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar /

The Music City Grand Prix through the streets of Nashville has been a challenge throughout its first two seasons in IndyCar. A much-needed change is coming after this year’s race. 

The 2023 season is the final season of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix’s current contract between the city of Nashville, Tennessee and IndyCar.

A restructuring of the current contract is expected, so IndyCar won’t be leaving Nashville anytime soon.

Staying in Nashville is the right move because of the massive draw the race has generated since it was added to the schedule in 2021. In both 2021 and 2022, race weekend attendance reached upwards of 110,000 fans.

While the event is undeniably popular among IndyCar fans, the on-track product has left a lot to be desired.

The scenic 11-turn, 2.17-mile (3.492-kilometer) temporary street circuit crosses the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Cumberland River and has proven difficult for drivers to maneuver.

Once over the bridge, the track utilizes four tight corners to get the field turned around and back over the water.

The narrow corners on the street circuit have made for a slow, dull race. In 2021 and 2022, 69 of the 160 total laps on race day were run under caution — more than 43%.

The two races have combined for a lowly seven lead changes. The innovative track is fun, but it simply hasn’t worked out for good racing.

With the restructuring of the contract after this season’s race, an update to the track layout is also coming. The street circuit was likely going to get a revision anyway, but renovations to Nissan Stadium will force the race organizers’ hands when it comes to a change in layout.

Today, much of the track runs right alongside the stadium, and IndyCar utilizes the stadium’s parking lot for the paddock.

While there is no confirmation on where in the city the track will be, it is looking like it will be on the south end of Broadway. An official announcement is expected to kick off race weekend this coming Thursday.

Here’s to hoping that IndyCar has learned from the mistakes of the current layout and there will be more quality racing in Nashville’s future.

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The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix is set to air live on NBC from the Nashville Street Circuit this Sunday, August 6 beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today and don’t miss it!