Column By: HOLLY CAIN / NASCAR – NASHVILLE, TN – The sounds and sights were unmistakable, the celebratory vibes everywhere as NASCAR fans and competitors began arriving for NASCAR Champion’s Week in Nashville, Tenn. – a robust reboot of the sport’s grand year-end celebration making its second run in the Music City.
Nashville’s famed “Broadway” street includes neon-lit bars and restaurants – each one with an amazing musical act – from a solo guitar player from Connecticut taking requests at a whiskey bar to an amazing trio featuring a stand-up bass player at the restaurant next door – all talented musicians who just may be the next Grammy-winning superstar.
The Johnny Cash Museum and its neighboring Patsy Cline Museum anchor a star-studded downtown stroll with restaurants and bars owned by Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Kid Rock, Dierks Bentley drawing enthusiastic crowds. And there were NASCAR hats, t-shirts and jackets all around.
NASCAR fans from as far away as California and Texas crowded the sidewalks taking photos with giant cowboy boots, Elvis statues and racecars before attending Tuesday’s NASCAR Street Party at Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium – the original Grand Ole Opry.
On Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET), the 16 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff drivers – plus NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champions performed electrifying Burnouts on Broadway. The lights and sounds – and high-wattage driver appearances – drew record crowds. The event will be televised Saturday at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN, just prior to the NASCAR Awards Banquet.
The big event, of course, is Thursday night’s NASCAR Awards Banquet with country music superstar Jake Owen teeing up the evening with a live performance. The show, co-hosted by Rutledge Wood and Kelli Stavast, will celebrate a thrilling 2021 season and Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson’s first ever NASCAR Cup Series championship. It will air on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.