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Nashville’s new MLS soccer franchise agrees to sponsor All-American 400

Barry Cantrell

In what could best be described as an olive branch or gesture of good faith, the owner of the approved Major League Soccer franchise in Nashville has agreed to become a sponsor of next weekend’s All-American 400 Super Late Model weekend at Fairgrounds Speedway.

John R. Ingram is the Middle Tennessee-based philanthropist and businessman that spearheaded the creation of a Nashville MLS team that will soon play in a stadium built on a portion of the Fairgrounds property — right next to the historic 0.596-mile short track.

Both entities have been in the news this summer with NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports Inc. courting the City of Nashville for a possible Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series date, an endeavor that would  require at least $30 million.

Meanwhile, the city also courted a Major League Soccer franchise, one that was ultimately approved alongside a stadium built next to the track. Some supporters of the race track believe the two can’t coexist and soccer may spell the end for racing at the century-old facility.

However, Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Marcus Smith has stated a conviction that the two can work together to create a premiere sports and entertainment complex in the Music City.

In agreeing to sponsor portions of the All-American 400, Ingram has offered a gesture of cooperation between the Formosa family that holds the race track lease and the soccer franchise.

“Nashville SC and I are very happy to be future neighbors of racing at the Fairgrounds and proud to be a sponsor of the 34th Annual All American 400,” Ingram said in a statement. “We have developed a great relationship with Tony and Claire Formosa, and look forward to working together for the benefit of racing and soccer now and in the years to come.”

Specifically, Nashville SC will be an associate sponsor of the All-American 400 weekend and the primary sponsor of Saturday’s festivities.

Speedway vice president Claire Formosa says this was an important moment in fostering a beneficial working relationship between the two.

“I am excited to have a working relationship with John Ingram and his entire team,” Formosa said. “I feel very confident that with the Ingram family steering the MLS ship that the Speedway will always remain an important part of the history of the Fairgrounds Nashville future development.

“I hope that this is a step in the right direction showing racers and fans that both Soccer can work together going forward to make the property a huge success.”

The All-American 400 is the longest Super Late Model race in the country and has been contested every year in some form since 1981. It has been won by the likes of Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Purvis, Chase Elliott, Daniel Hemric, John Hunter Nemechek and Bubba Pollard.

The event begins on Saturday, Nov. 2 with tech and pit parking. Track activity begins on Satruday Nov. 3 with practice and qualifying for the Late Models and racing for local divisions.

Race day is Sunday, Nov. 4 with a 100-lap Pro Late Model race and the 400-lap All-American 400 for the Super Late Models.

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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