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The April 2021 Edition …

Knoxville partners race in from east to help Music City Grand Prix get off the line

By TOM WOOD / April 9, 2021

Officially, it is known as the Big Machine IndyCar Music City Grand Prix, but Nashville’s Aug. 8 inaugural street race is truly a statewide event.

Among those who helped turn a dream into reality are a high-powered group of owner investors stretching from Knoxville businessmen Teddy Phillips, Darby Campbell and Kevin Clayton to two-time Grammy Award winner Justin Timberlake of Memphis. Read more in the April 9 edition of the Ledger here.

Organizers expect more than 100,000 fans from not only across the nation but from around the world, which will mean filled hotels, restaurants and downtown bars. And the action should be spectacular as the downtown course travels from Nissan Stadium over the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge through city streets.

“We love living here in East Tennessee but love visiting Nashville,” says Kevin Clayton.

–Ledger covers designed by Mike Hopey

Phillips says it is exciting “to be able to have an event like this and be a part of this,” and also credits Nashville city leaders as well as their event partners, the Tennessee Titans. The 2.17-mile race will begin at Nissan Stadium, roar across the Cumberland River via a 600-yard straightaway over the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge into downtown Nashville and back. “Thanks to the city of Nashville and thanks to the Tennessee Titans, we’ve been able to put this thing together,” Phillips adds.

Campbell also is looking forward to the race for many years to come. “It will be a very big event. It will attract people from all over the world. It will bring eyes to Nashville — but it will also, you know, Nashville enhances it,” he says.

Here’s a look back at some of my other recent stories in the Ledger.

March: Nashville will get a Grand Prix boost

As Nashville continues to rebound from the COVID-19 global pandemic, expect at least a $20 million shot in the arm from the inaugural IndyCar NTT Music City Grand Prix on Aug. 8. Read more in the March 19 edition in the Nashville Ledger.

Organizers expect more than 100,000 fans from not only across the nation but from around the world, which will mean filled hotels, restaurants and downtown bars. And the action should be spectacular as the downtown course travels from Nissan Stadium over the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge through city streets.

“Nashville is a city primed for events,” driver Josef Newgarden says.

–Ledger covers designed by Mike Hopey

Newgarden, a two-time IndyCar champion (2017, 2019) who has 18 career victories, will be a homegrown favorite to win in Nashville. He grew up in Hendersonville before moving to Indianapolis to pursue his racing dreams. After living in Charlotte for awhile, he and his wife moved back to Nashville a couple of years ago.

Also included is a look at NASCAR bringing a Cup Series race back to the Midstate for the first time in 37 years when Nashville Superspeedway hosts the Ally 400 June 20 in Gladeville, about 18 miles south of Lebanon. 

Here’s a look back at some of my other recent stories in the Ledger.

February: SEC tourney brings back the buzz

March Madness returned to Nashville on March 10-14 as Bridgestone Arena played host to a socially distanced but nonetheless exciting relaunch of the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament. I wrote about it and the other spring sports for the Ledger in February. You can read that article here.

“We’re not gonna put players or fans in harm’s way,” UT coach Barnes says.

Some of the highlights saw Vanderbilt win its first SEC tournament game under coach Jerry Stackhouse before being eliminated; Tennessee registering a superb win over Florida that should serve them well in the NCAA Tournament that begins March 19 in Indiana; a great SEC championship game between Alabama and LSU, with the Crimson Tide prevailing in a nail-biter.

January: Lea, Vanderbilt open spring practice

From all the people I have talked with, from listening to him talk,and from all that I have read about him, everything that new Vanderbilt football coach does is intentional.

So it comes as no surprise that the Commodores opened their first spring practice under Lea on Wednesday, March 17. You know, St. Patrick’s Day … luck of the Irish, and all that.

Prior to taking the job at his alma mater, Lea served for three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. You know, the Fighting Irish. Perhaps Lea is hoping that a little bit of the luck of the Irish will follow him to Vandy.

In the January 8 edition of the Ledger, I wrote about Vanderbilt hiring Clark Lea as its new head football coach and his plans to revive the program.

“There’s no limit on what we can accomplish here,” Clark Lea says.

–Ledger covers designed by Mike Hopey

In one of his early interviews with the media, Lea spoke about the influence Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly had on his growth as a coach, and what it will mean to Lea as he tackles his first head coaching job.

“Watching Coach Kelly, he’s got an incredibly hard job. Watching him every single day handling that masterfully, his staying power, the sustained success, the toughness required to do that really was an experience for me that I think put the finishing touches on my preparation,” Lea said.

The Commodores are close to wrapping up spring practice, concluding with the spring game scheduled for April 17.

As always, thanks for reading.

Tom Wood

65 thoughts on “The April 2021 Edition …

  1. From Kathi Ford:
    As a new subscriber to the CFR newsletter I have read with interest your country legends of the past articles. My mother’s scrapbook is full of clippings from the late 1940’s about Elton Britt. What can you tell me about him?
    And Tom’s reply:
    Hope you’re enjoying the CFR newsletter, Kathi. Gotta admit I’m more familiar with Elton John than Elton Britt. But I will do an article on the legend of Mr. Britt in the near future. Thanks for bringing him to my attention.

  2. Can you tell me how to get a CD of Archie Campbell’s
    “Rindercella”? We enjoyed hearing that so much on
    Hee Haw.

    • Hi Wilma,
      Check out Ernest Tubb Record Shop’s online store, maybe the Time-Life Hee Haw series or check with the CFR News publishers at 615-673-2846.
      Thanks for reading.
      Tom

  3. I got this note the other day from reader/author Turner French, thought I’d share:

    When I picked up Vendetta Stone, I didn’t realized I’d signed up for an all-nighter! Great characterization and plotting kept me awake until the end. It was a stone-cold good book!
    Warning: don’t pick up this novel and expect to be able to put it down until the last page. To paraphrase from your work, “Thou shalt not pass up this great read.”

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