Dover Motorsports executives last summer named Erik Moses president of Nashville Superspeedway in Wilson County as the company began to reopen the track to racing and prepared for the return of NASCAR’s top-level Cup Series to Middle Tennessee. Moses brings a range of sports business experience to his post, most recently as president of the D.C. Defenders of the XFL. This spring, he sat down with Michael Gallagher to talk about how his team was approaching its work and the track’s longer-term future.
With the Superspeedway not having the attractions of downtown Nashville, how have you and Dover Motorsports approached the fan experience aspect of hosting a Cup Series race? Phrased differently, how do you keep fans from showing up, watching the race and leaving immediately after?
We want our fans to have a memorable time at our inaugural tripleheader NASCAR Weekend this June and to present them with experiences that they can’t get at any other venue in Middle Tennessee. As you would expect, the circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic have curbed some of the great ideas and plans we will eventually make a part of our NASCAR race weekend. Ultimately, we will ensure that all visitors to the Nashville Superspeedway have an unforgettable “Nashville experience.”
Unfortunately, out of an abundance of caution, not everything that a typical NASCAR weekend entails will be in place for our June 18-20 weekend events. For example, there will be no autograph sessions with the drivers and little to no infield and/or garage access for spectators. That is just the reality of our situation in 2021. Our job from the track perspective is to nail down what is possible and make that experience the very best we can for our fans, who have not seen a NASCAR Cup Series race in this area since 1984 — longer than some of them (including many on our staff) have even been alive.
How do you feel your diverse background in the XFL, Events DC and the DC Sports & Entertainment Commission has prepared you to position the Superspeedway to be successful with ticket sales, race day experience and fan engagement?
Every position I’ve had professionally has contributed to my preparation for this incredible challenge and opportunity. What makes all sports similar are the business fundamentals — ticket sales, sponsorship sales, food and beverage, fan experience and being a valued member of the community. We are fortunate to have experienced a huge level of enthusiasm from the NASCAR fanbase, which is the reason we had to bring in additional grandstands after only one month of tickets being on sale to the general public.
This area is hungry for top-level racing and the fans are willing to pay their hard-earned money to let loose for a few hours or an entire weekend and enjoy themselves. Our job is to make sure that trust and support from the fans is rewarded the best way possible during our race weekend and every other event we host. My sports and entertainment experience has taught me that our focus must always be on serving the fans — who want and deserve to have a safe and convenient way to make memorable shared experiences when they go into any venue.
To help us in that continued objective, we have recently composed a Nashville Superspeedway Fan Council, which will meet periodically and provide us with a good sense of what matters to fans from a facility perspective and how we can make their experiences here better and more meaningful. We had 823 nominees from our fan base apply to serve on the Fan Council. We chose 30 fans to serve as our initial class.
With the Fairgrounds Speedway trying to attract a Cup Series race, do you feel any pressure to compete to be Nashville’s destination track for NASCAR races and what do you see the long-term relationship for the two tracks looking like?
Honestly, my focus is 100 percent on Nashville Superspeedway and the work, challenges and opportunities that we have at this facility. If the enthusiasm we’ve heard from this community proves anything, it’s that Middle Tennessee fans deserve to have the NASCAR Cup Series back in this area. It’s been almost 40 years since America’s best drivers competed in this part of the country, which is really stunning considering the passion for racing that I hear and experience every day when I visit business groups, speak with fans and community leaders or attend other events in the area.
Ultimately, if the Nashville market can sustain two top-level Cup Series events, that benefits not only motorsports in general but the fans in this area, who are certainly deserving of the best that racing has to offer.