Kix Brooks has witnessed his share of thrilling Nashville moments over the past couple of decades. With his Brooks & Dunn duo partner Ronnie Dunn, Brooks has performed for record-setting crowds during CMA Music Festival at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium. He became part of the city’s thriving culinary scene when he opened his winery/music venue Arrington Vineyards in 2007. In 2019, Brooks watched, along with scores of fellow football fans, as Nashville dazzled the sports world by successfully hosting the NFL Draft, turning downtown Music City into a week-long party and earning raves from the league.
Now, he’s geared up and ready as Nashville prepares for another chill-bump event, the inaugural Music City Grand Prix auto race, running August 6-8, 2021. Brooks serves on the Board of Directors for the Grand Prix, and he can barely put a cap on his enthusiasm. This, Brooks vows, will traverse the bounds of a typical race and offer so much more to Nashvillians and race fan visitors. “It’s going to be a festival,” Brooks declares. “We’ll have live music, and food from all the different restaurants around town. There will be a lot more going on than just a race.”
The race itself shapes up to be full of magnificent twists and down-to-the-wire drama. The street circuit will run on a 2.17-mile makeshift track and take the racers by Nissan Stadium, over the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, and into downtown Nashville. With the Memorial Bridge coming into play, it’s believed that the Music City Grand Prix is the first IndyCar event to be run over a major body of water, in this case, the Cumberland River. The temporary course features 11 turns and plenty of straightaways.
If you’ve never caught an IndyCar race, you’ll be stunned by the sheer power and aesthetic beauty of the vehicles. The stars drive single-seat cars with V-6 engines and estimated 500-700 horsepower. “Grand Prix races are just amazing to watch,” says Brooks. “The cars are spectacular.”
Brooks, along with Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta, has been a longtime supporter of bringing Grand Prix racing to Nashville. Borchetta is one of the investors in the Music City Grand Prix. IndyCar series owner Roger Penske has also advocated for expanding the sport to additional markets, and helped finalize the agreement for Nashville along with other race executives. “Once Penske came on board,” Brooks notes, “things started rolling in a positive direction. Everybody is coming together to make this a great event for the city.”
Nashville, mainly through its Southern geographical location, has usually been linked with NASCAR racing instead of the more exotic IndyCar series. In past years, the Nashville Superspeedway track has hosted NASCAR Xfinity series events, among others sanctioned by the NASCAR body. The facility is scheduled to host a NASCAR Cup race in June of 2021. “People might ask, well, what do Nashvillians know about IndyCar, and that is a natural question,” Brooks points out. “But then again, how much did Nashville know about hockey before the [NHL team] Nashville Predators came here? Now, it’s one of the top markets for hockey and the fans love it. There is a history here with NASCAR, and that history speaks for itself. But racing is just exciting, whether it’s NASCAR or IndyCar. I think fans will take to the Grand Prix.”
Of course, you couldn’t hold an international event like a Grand Prix race in Nashville without the city’s most famed product – live music. Brooks promises that the sounds of Music City’s finest acts will hum right along with the roar of those speed-busting race cars. And one would assume that Brooks would serve on any committee responsible for rounding up the artists.
“I have not been officially charged with that,” Brooks says, “so I don’t know what my involvement will be yet. I’m sure that Scott Borchetta will have a big role to play in the music selection. But I do know that music will be a huge part of the Music City Grand Prix. We’ll have more specific details as we go along.”
Brooks is confident that Nashville will prove the perfect host for the Grand Prix event, even though a newcomer to the IndyCar scene. “Nashville has a great tradition when it comes to putting on big events,” he notes proudly. “Look what we did with the NFL Draft. People around the NFL are still talking about it, and rightfully so. Nashville set the bar really high for that event. So, I know we’ll do a great job with this. Nashville definitely knows how to throw a party.”