Eddie George Honored With 2023 Neighborhood Heroes Award

Eddie George with Bristol Motor Speedway President Jerry Caldwell. Photo: Courtesy of TSU Athletics

Tennessee State University (TSU) head football coach Eddie George was honored with the 2023 Neighborhood Heroes Award by Bristol Motor Speedway.

George, who enters his third season leading TSU, was presented with a $1,000 check and a plaque from Jerry Caldwell, General Manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, that will go towards his Legacy Fund and the TSU Athletic Fund.

“For the award to be around since 2018 and to be recognized in this capacity is great,” says George. “I came in with the intention to transform lives and shape these young men’s lives through the prism of football so they can be productive citizens, but also realize their purpose after the game.”

The award recognizes first responders, military members and others in Tennessee who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their professions to make a significant impact in the lives of others in their communities.

“So often I see athletes—high school, college, and professional—leave the game with no guidance and that’s something I went through as an athlete, leaving the game earlier than I would have liked to,” George says. “I just want to provide for them the guiding light to [plant] seeds to understand that we’re not here just to play football, but give back in a greater way [through football], and all that you aspire [to be] and dream about will come to fruition at its proper time.”

A few of the previous winners of the award include the Nolensville Little League All-Star team in 2022, and Hampton Valley Forge firefighter Chris Russell in 2019.

Big Machine Racing To Stick With Parker Kligerman For 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Season

Scott Borchetta & Parker Kligerman. Photo: Courtesy of Big Machine Racing.

Big Machine Racing and Parker Kligerman will stay together for the 2024 Xfinity season in the No. 48 Spiked Coolers Chevy.

“Parker Kligerman has done a fantastic job for us this year,” says Big Machine Racing Team Owner Scott Borchetta. “His experience behind the wheel, and his amazing profile as an ambassador for our sport and our Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers brand, provides all the fuel we need for next year. Let’s Go! 2024 is gonna be BIG!”

Kligerman has had a solid season with 12 top-10 finishes and five top-five finishes including one pole win at Dover Motor Speedway. His best took place at Road America, where he finished second after starting 17. He finished third on Saturday (Aug. 19) at Watkins Glen, showing his skills at both ovals and at road courses.

“Thank you to Scott and Sandi Borchetta for this amazing opportunity and their continued belief in me and what we’re building at Big Machine Racing,” says Kligerman. “Getting to know them, the entire Big Machine Racing team and everyone at Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Although we haven’t yet achieved our ultimate goal of winning races together, we’ve shared some unforgettable moments and continue to grow stronger each week. It’s an incredible feeling knowing we still have a chance to fight for a championship this year, and we’ll be doing just that in 2024!”

The Greenwich, Connecticut native is currently sitting in 11th place in the Xfinity Series standings and has three more races left to get into the top 10, clinching a spot in the 2023 playoffs. Next up for Kligerman and BMR is the Daytona for the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola on Friday, Aug. 25.

Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Hall Of Fame Announces 2023 Inductees

The Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Hall of Fame (NFSHOF) has revealed the 2023 inductees, which include David Sisco, Ellis Cook and Charles “Preacher” Hamilton (in the Past Era) as well as Alton Jones, Tom Roberts and Richard Petty (in the Present Era).

“This year’s inductees, past and present, represent some of the most important names in auto racing and all played an integral role in the hallowed history of the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway,” says Scott Borchetta, Big Machine Chairman and NFSHOF Board Member, who announced this year’s class via social media. “Headlining this year’s induction ceremony is none other than The King, Richard Petty…and The King has every intention of attending! This is going to be an amazing night.”

The Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of auto stock car racing via on-the-track performance or meritorious service. The six honorees, selected first by fan submissions and ratified by a blue ribbon committee vote, will officially be inducted on Tuesday, Nov.14, beginning at 6 p.m. CT at the Nashville Fairgrounds Expo Center. This year’s class will bring the total inductees to 94 members.

2023 Inductee Bios:

Sisco, a native of Hohenwald, Tennessee, ventured to Nashville for the betterment of his career. He was the 1969 Nashville champion, which was the last year the half-mile asphalt track was in existence. Sisco claimed three wins at the Fairgrounds, then proceeded to compete for seven seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series. He will join his brother, Jerry, as a NFSHOF  inductee.

A genuine race supporter and contributor to local racing, Cook owned the car of two-time Nashville Champion Darrell Waltrip. Cook brought in Buddy Baker and Bobby Isaac to compete on the local level for national events. George Bennett won multiple quarter-mile championship titles driving under the banner of Cook’s Pabst Blue Ribbon brand before moving to the 5/8th mile oval. The Fall City and Pabst beer brands were showcased at the speedway for many NASCAR National Championship events.

Dating back to the 1940s, an early pioneer of the sport, Preacher Hamilton was ahead of his time. He and his son Bud laid the groundwork for the future of auto racing in Middle Tennessee. Hamilton was the car owner and builder for the first championship car on asphalt driven by hall-of-famer Bob Reuther. In 1958, he took it one step further with sponsorship from country music legend and hall-of-famer Marty Robbins. Preacher and Bud Hamilton were both a part of Robbins’ career locally and nationally. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree as Preacher’s grandson, Bobby Hamilton Sr., laid claim to multiple championships at the Fairgrounds and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

When you think of Pleasant Grove, Alabama, in stock car racing, Jones is the first to come to mind. He competed on many Alabama short tracks, including Birmingham, Huntsville and Montgomery. Nashville Fairgrounds was always a track he enjoyed success. Jones was the 1976 Track Champion at the Fairgrounds, driving for the Butch Hawkersmith-owned team out of Winchester, Tennessee. The Crimson Dale Nursery name carried Jones to many wins at the Fairgrounds and one top five in the NASCAR Cup Series. Jones has 15 career wins at Nashville and thirteen career starts in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Roberts assumed the duties of Assistant General Manager & Public Relations at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway in 1981 with responsibilities toward NASCAR weekly racing and two NASCAR Cup Series events each year. He was the key person who put All Pro Series’ Bob Harmon and ASA’s Rex Robbins together to form what we know today as the “All American 400” event at the Fairgrounds. Roberts left the Fairgrounds in 1984, and his career is like a rolling billboard of success with public relations for NASCAR teams of DiGard, Stavola Brother, Team Penske and Alan Kulwicki Racing.

Petty is the all-time winningest driver for the NASCAR Cup Series at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. He has nine wins, one more than Darrell Waltrip at the Fairgrounds. Petty and Waltrip are tied for pole positions with seven. In 1975, Petty partnered with Fairgrounds Speedway Founder Bill Donoho, Cale Yarborough and Mooney Lynn (husband of Loretta Lynn) to build a superspeedway near the Davidson and Rutherford County line. In keeping with tradition, Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway was the only track in the nation that had a weekly NASCAR program and NASCAR Cup Series each year from from 1958 to 1984, as most only had two Cup events yearly.

Mario Andretti Joins Scott Borchetta In Nashville For Borchetta Bourbon Launch

In celebration of the third annual Big Machine Music City Grand Prix (BMMCGP), racing legend Mario Andretti joined Big Machine Label Group Founder & CEO Scott Borchetta at Big Machine Brewery & Distillery to launch the newest edition of Borchetta Bourbon, which features Andretti’s 1985 Lola IndyCar on the bottle.

Borchetta has taken the liquor and spirits world by storm with his Big Machine Vodka and Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers, which have become synonymous with his race teams. The Vodka Coolers brand has been Big Machine Racing in NASCAR Xfinity Series’ main sponsor since he founded the team in 2021.

Borchetta has always looked up to Andretti, and asked him to be a part of his exclusive bourbon line as a way to honor his career as well as his gorgeous and fast 1985 Lola IndyCar, which he won three races with and finished second in at the Indianapolis 500.

“Mario and I have been friends for a while and he’s just been wonderful,” said Borchetta. “I called and said ‘Hey would you allow us to honor you this year by having your national championship car from 1985 [on our bourbon]?’ and he said he would love to [be a part of it]. It was really that simple, the handful of things we’ve been able to do, he couldn’t have been more kind and generous with his time.”

Pictured (L-R): Mark Borchetta, Mario Andretti and Scott Borchetta in front of Andretti’s 1985 Lola IndyCar.

Andretti has been a powerhouse name in motorsports all around the world for over half a century, after winning his first Indy 500 in 1969. He won NASCAR’s Daytona 500 in 1967, the Formula One World Championship in 1978 and the USAC Championship Car Season three times.

He is no stranger of the wide world of motorsports fandom and has seen firsthand the explosion of interest in all forms of motorsports in the U.S. the past few years.

“Motor racing worldwide is at a very good place right now,” said Andretti. “And in the [United] States, you can see they’re embracing all the very best. IndyCar, NASCAR and Formula One and actually sports cars too. All the other [racing] series are coming up because they’re all part of it so everyone is benefitting.”

His team, Andretti Autosports is one of the best teams in all of IndyCar and has been rumored to be on the path to joining NASCAR and even Formula One. Andretti Autosports took home the BMMCGP win on Sunday when driver Kyle Kirkwood held off the competition at the third annual race.

Click below to watch The Sports Credential‘s full interview with Borchetta and Andretti.

Big Machine Music City Grand Prix Celebrates Women In Motorsports

Photo: Ryan Carignan

Big Machine Music City Grand Prix (BMMCGP) and Women in Motorsports North America recognized female motorsports industry members, and the men who support them, this weekend in Victory Circle.

Additionally, two scholarships were awarded to BMMCGP employees in memory of Dr. Rose Mattioli. A trailblazer for women and families in motorsports, the late Dr. Rose and her husband, Dr. Joseph “Doc” Mattioli, co-founded Pocono Raceway in 1968, a family-owned-and-operated business.

“It’s a privilege for us to be able to honor women trailblazers, like Dr. Rose Mattioli, with the creation of a scholarship for women in motorsports to this year’s Women with Drive III Summit this fall,” said Matt Crews, CEO of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. “Additionally, Rose’s son, Joe, was instrumental in starting what is now known as the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. So to honor his contribution and her legacy was important to us. As a father of a daughter who can look at a career in motorsports, it is really important that we raise awareness with prospects, and it goes back to pioneers like Dr. Rose who helped forge opportunities.”

Crews was joined by Big Machine Music City Grand Prix’s President & COO Jason Rittenberry and EVP Liz Allison along with Joe Mattioli and Cindy Sisson, Executive Director of Women in Motorsports North America, to present scholarships to two multi-year employees of Music City Grand Prix Molly Hayes and Sarah Wahlstrom. Hayes is the Client Services Manager, and Wahlstrom is the Operations Administration Manager. Hayes and Wahlstrom both started as interns for the organization.

“Rose was so special and cared about all families,” said Allison. “I know many of us really miss her, and she’s left quite the legacy. It’s really exciting for us to be able to send two women to the summit in Phoenix, and I’m thrilled to be standing here with Cindy Sisson and Jason Rittenberry today to be able to honor the winners and celebrate all women and the men who support us in motorsports today.”

Pictured (L-R): Matt Crews, Sarah Wahlstrom, Molly Hayes and Jason Rittenberry. Photo: Michael Levitt

As part of its commitment to supporting and enhancing opportunities for women across all motorsport disciplines, Women in Motorsports North America (WIMNA) created the Women with Drive Summit. Attendees include industry executives, drivers, team members, manufacturers, sponsors, race track representatives and anyone working in the sport or wanting to learn more. The inaugural summit was held during the BMMCGP weekend in Aug. 2021.

“My mother was constantly fighting for ‘Women’s Rights’ long before it was popular and won numerous awards for her efforts,” said Joe Mattioli. “While my dad was an incredible businessman, my mother taught me important life lessons about honesty, bravery, hard work, compassion, family values, not being afraid to fail, treating everyone with respect, and much more.”

Hayes and Wahlstrom will now have the opportunity to gather with industry leaders from across all forms of motorsports to discuss current issues and network during the two-day summit slated for Nov. 7-8 at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona following the final NASCAR Cup Series race of the season.

“This is an amazing day, and I’m so happy for the recipients,” said Sisson. “It all started here, and I have to credit Matt. He called me before his inaugural race and told me to ‘think big’ because so few people promote women in motorsports, so we thought big and held our first conference here in Nashville two years ago. I’m very thankful that Matt and his team are honoring these women and partnering with our organization.”

Kyle Kirkwood Leads 34 Laps To Win The 2023 Music City Grand Prix

Kyle Kirkwood on victory lane after winning the 2023 Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. Photo: Travis Hinkle / IndyCar

Another exciting finish in Nashville ends with Kyle Kirkwood holding off pole winner Scott McLaughlin to win the 2023 Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.

The driver of the No. 27 Andretti Autosports Chevrolet started the race eighth but quickly found himself fighting for a spot in the top row. By halfway through the race, Kirkwood found himself in first place, consistently holding a two second lead. He led 34 out of the 80 laps to clinch his second career NTT IndyCar Series win.

“I’ve got to give up to the 27 crew, AutoNation, Andretti, Honda,” Kirkwood said post-race. “They played everything in my favor, to be honest. They gave me all the tools I needed. They cycled me to the front on strategy, and we just made really smart decisions and hit all of our marks. Just a solid day.”

Watch Kirkwood’s entire post-race press conference in the link below:

Despite this tracks history of cautions and constant chaos, this year’s race was extremely smooth with just one caution before the final 10 laps when a yellow flag was waved after rookie Linus Lundqvist collided with the wall. This is when things became intense.

On the restart, there was an accident involving Felix Rosenqvist, Agustin Canapino and Benjamin Pederson which brought out a red flag with just four laps to go. On the final restart, Krikwood got a great jump on turn 10 and never looked back.

This was McLaughlin’s second consecutive P2 finish at the Music City Grand Prix.

“I tried my hardest. Congrats to Kyle and his team. Another top-three, good points,” said McLaughlin post-race. “Bummed we didn’t get the win, but we weren’t the best on the day. Kyle was. Hopefully next year we’re running for the championship and win here and win the championship, as well. There will be a huge party on Broadway.”

Watch the entire post-race press conference with McLaughlin and Palou in the link below:

The biggest fight of the day was for the third, fourth and fifth positions. It was a big battle between current NTT IndyCar Series standings leader Alex Palou, Nashville native Josef Newgarden, last year’s MCGP winner Scott Dixon and Romain Grosjean.

There were heavy points implications going into the as Newgarden trailed Palou in the standings by 80 points and Dixon was third in the points. Palou was able to hold off Newgarden for third and another podium and extends his point lead to 84. Dixon who started in 12th was able to finish fourth. Dixon still sits in third place in the standings, but McLaughlin jumps from fifth to fourth, hopping Marcus Ericsson.

There are just four races left in the NTT IndyCar Series season starting with the Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, Aug. 12.

Final results at the 2023 Big Machine Music City Grand Prix:

Scott McLaughlin Wins Pole At Music City Grand Prix For Second Consecutive Year

Scott McLaughlin at the 2022 Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. Photo: Courtesy of the MCGP

For the second consecutive year, Scott McLaughlin, driver of the No. 3 Penske Chevrolet, has won the pole at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix with a 1:14.6 lap in the Firestone Fast 6.

McLaughlin’s pole win comes after nearly a four hour weather delay. This is the New Zealand native’s first pole of the season and Penske’s first street course pole of the season.

Following McLaughlin in the top six, are Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta, NTT IndyCar Series standings leader Alex Palou, David Malukas and Romain Grosjean. Nashville native Josef Newgarden will start ninth tomorrow behind 2022 IndyCar champion Will Power who will be starting seventh.

McLaughlin had a great race in Nashville in 2021, winning the pole and finishing second behind behind fellow Kiwi Scott Dixon. McLaughlin was short of the win by 0.1067.

McLaughlin currently sits in fifth place in the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series standings with 329 points. O’Ward is tied with the pole winner also with 329 points. 2021 BMMCGP winner Marcus Erisson sits in fourth place with 330 points but will be starting 20th. Dixon sits in third place with 357 points and will be starting 12th.

The third annual Big Machine Music City Grand Prix is set to start at 11:30 a.m. CT on Sunday (Aug. 6).

Music City Grand Prix Set To Be 2024 IndyCar Season Finale

Photo: Courtesy of the Music City Grand Prix

The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix (BMMCGP) and IndyCar have announced that the fourth edition of the race will be the 2024 NTT IndyCar Series season finale on Sept. 13-15, 2024.

All roads will lead to Nashville as the year-long championship battle will be settled and a champion crowned on downtown Nashville’s iconic Honky-Tonk row. The 2024 season awards ceremony will also take place in the Music City, on Sept. 16 at the iconic Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

“Nashville and the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix team are ready to host a can’t-miss, action-packed event that transforms the NTT IndyCar Series season finale and elevates it to an even higher peak on the global stage,” says Mark Miles, president & CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp.

Pictured L-R: MCGP CEO Matt Crews, IndyCar CEO Mark Miles, Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta, Mayor John Cooper and IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden

“Next year’s race in Nashville will be an unbridled celebration of the most fierce and competitive motorsport on the planet, set against the backdrop of an innovative and breathtaking stage that includes one of the premier global entertainment districts in the world. We’ll have more to share soon on an entire weekend of activities, both on and off track, that fully taps into the growing reach and relevance of an ascendant and marquee city.”

Along with the date change, the 2024 Music City Grand Prix will include a 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 racecourse will run through the city’s honky-tonk district. This change is partly due to the scheduled construction of the new Titans stadium starting in late 2024.

Considered one of the world’s finest venues, Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center will host the 2024 IndyCar Victory Lap Celebration on Monday, Sept. 16, 2024. Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, the building boasts distinctive design elements that pay homage to history, culture and people of Middle Tennessee.

2024 Big Machine Music City Grand Prix circuit map

“The fact that IndyCar has chosen Nashville and the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix as the crowning event is a testament to our fans, partners, stakeholders and truly the Nashville hospitality industry as a whole,” says Matt Crews, CEO, Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. “The ability to promote our city and state year-round and bring our race into the heart of Nashville is an absolute honor. The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix continues to grow to levels that I never dreamed could have been possible.”

The Big Machine Music City Grand Prix has become one of Tennessee’s marquee events, bringing fans from all 50 states and dozens of countries annually. The race has had a global TV audience in over 200 countries and territories.

For more information and to receive future news on the 2024 Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, please visit www.musiccitygp24.com.