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The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix Takes Another Turn Around the Streets of Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix was a three-day celebration of INDYCAR racing that took place for the third year in a row from August 04 through 06, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. INDYCAR is the governing body for the sport, however, each contest is operated by its own ownership group and - in this case - it was Big Machine Label Group. American Honda Motor Co. also had a visible presence at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix as they provided hospitality, on track vehicles plus a 2023 Honda Civic Type R that served as the pace car as part of an official deal that will run through 2024.

Race winner Kyle Kirkwood speeds through the paddock in front of Nissan Stadium.

INDYCARS are single-seat cars that feature the new Aero-screen and a 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V-6 engine. These engines are optimized to run 12,000 RPM with an estimated 500-700 horsepower depending on the turbocharger boost setting. American open-wheel professional car racing aka INDYCAR started back in the early 1900's and remains a popular draw to this day. The Music City Grand Prix has become a much loved annual event and one that is set to become even a bigger force to be reckoned with the next time they take to the streets of Nashville.

Like this car's sponsor, The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix delivered yet again in Nashville.

The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix was an action-packed weekend showcasing the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, along with INDY NXT, GT America, GR Cup, the Big Machine Spiked Cooler Trans Am TA2 Series, and Stadium SUPER Trucks. Music was also part of the festivities with big concerts scheduled for both Friday and Saturday nights in addition to other live performances that took place throughout the whole weekend. Tootsie's a well-known music venue in Nashville set up a temporary bar with a stage so they too were hosting live performances as was iHeart Country, The Fish 94 and ZYN. We especially enjoyed the Sunday Worship hosted by Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts fame who presented a slate of fine artists - including the passionate and powerful Iveth Luna all the way from Texas.

The Indy Car Ministry is on site to lend spiritual support to a dangerous pursuit.

Weather was a bit of a factor for this year's edition. Threatening skies on Friday did nothing to dampen the spirits of race fans and actually made for an unseasonable and enjoyable viewing experience as the cloud cover kept things relatively cool. Saturday was important with all eyes on the skies as qualifying runs were scheduled along with race 1 of 2 for Stadium SUPER Trucks, Toyota GR and SRO GT America in between the forecasted scattered showers. Sunday was the big day! The heat was on with the rest of the official races taking place as trackside temperatures climbed well above 100 degrees. Thank God for the ample amounts of free Gatorade that us and the overflowing crowd of attendees were consuming in large quantities.

Singer Iveth Luna from Texas proved just why she is on the rise in Nashville.

Friday featured practice runs for each group of contenders so fans got a good look at the sponsored vehicles while the athletes acquainted themselves with the challenges of road racing which included sharp turns at intersections which spectators could see on large screens in addition to their seats in the grandstands. Each driver has to gain speed then figure out how much to slow down while still making their best times.

It doesn't get much more Nashville than Kid Rock and Big Machine Vodka.

In Nashville, the temporary Street Circuit ran past Nissan Stadium, crossed 553 yards of the bridge on Korean Veterans Boulevard and navigated through a portion of the downtown on a curvy course that measured 2.17 miles long with 300 feet of pit road. Various Club/Suites and Grandstand Packages were available to spectators. Food, fun, music and of course racing brought fans from near and far into Music City for what has been called a best-in-class annual event. The Paddock Area allowed fans to see cars being worked on along with the team's 18 wheelers and there were opportunities to meet the drivers during autograph sessions.

It was a thrill and an honor to do some reporting from Pit Row in Nashville.

As we were taking in the many sights and sounds, we found IndyCar Ministry who had a red Indy NXT car on display. It was a good conversation starter and we found out that as you might imagine the racing circuit is very stressful. So, since 1996, IndyCar Ministry has fostered a healthier environment by investing in relationships and spirituality within the industry. Looking at their flashy vehicle we realized how small the cockpit really is. Just sitting there would be a test of endurance let alone the dangerous driving part. Also of interest was Firestone's Big Foot Truck and there were plenty more cool things and some freebies to enjoy in addition to all the different races that took place over the three days.

Indy NXT race winner Christian Rasmussen greets the press after dominating the Music City circuit.

Speaking of Indy NXT, we situated ourselves at the finish line to watch the likable Christian Rasmussen from Copenhagen cross the finish line in his #6 car for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. The likable lad led every lap to win by a mere 1.1594 seconds after starting from the pole thus priming everyone in attendance for the main event. In that race, second year driver Kyle Kirkwood in his white and hot pink #27 Honda held off Scott McLaughlin after a final restart to claim his second career victory in thrilling fashion in Music City.

Christian Rasmussen turns toward the checkered flag in Nashville.

The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix was big. The military was on hand to mingle with the public while looking for qualifying recruits. In addition to the competitions there was a sizable Fan Zone with a Patriot Outpost and a Family Zone with games geared towards children. There were plenty of food and drink options including many local favorites such as the Daddy Dogs, the Loveless Cafe, Martin's BBQ and more. Along with all the music, excitement and constant revving of engines the MCGP lived up to its advance billing as a feast for all the senses.

A dense cloud cover on Friday kept things cool for fans in the stands.

In 2024, The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will become an even bigger deal as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES moves it Finale from September 13 through 15 with a new route through downtown Nashville's iconic Honky-Tonk row. The 2024 season awards ceremony will also take place in Music City, on Sept. 16 at the iconic Schermerhorn Symphony Center. More than 250,000 fans are expected to converge on downtown Nashville for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, which has quickly become one of the sport's marquee events since its debut in 2021 and will become a championship-crowning celebration watched by viewers across the globe. The new 2.17-mile, seven-turn circuit will continue across the iconic Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge and route directly past the Country Music Hall of Fame. The race course will run through the city's honky-tonk district, home to bars owned by the biggest names in country music, including Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Garth Brooks, Eric Church, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, John Rich and Blake Shelton. Each day of racing will culminate with a takeover of Broadway and a massive street party that only Nashville can throw, featuring live performances by many of music's biggest artists.

The Big Machine Music City Grand is set to get even bigger in 2024.

About "The Streets of Nashville": Throughout the three days that we covered The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix we heard the race announcers excitedly and repeatedly mention how the multiple contests were taking place on "the streets of Nashville". It was thrilling to MCN Founder Rockin' Rich Lynch to hear those words over and over again as he recently released a song by the same title. Still, his rock-infused track was about the parking issue in town and not high speed racing. But, both will remain relevant topics especially as the Grand Prix returns to the downtown next year and fans seek a place to park to enjoy all the action!

Related Links: For more information on the BIG MACHINE MUSIC CITY GRAND PRIX and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Big Machine Music City Grand Prix | Indy Car Ministry | Nissan Stadium | The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix Is Off to the Races with a Big Day of Music in Nashville | Music City Grand Prix Returns For Another Spin Around Nashville in 2022


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