And The Saga Continues…

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For those that are interested in what has become a saga of the currently defunct Nashville Superspeedway; there has been a new chapter written.

A week ago today, there were headlines that the funding had been secured for Nashville-based NeXovation, Inc. to purchase the track. There were mentions on local sports-talk radio and even Kevin Lee mentioned it on Trackside last Thursday night. Most IndyCar fans seem interested in the fate of the 1.33-mile concrete oval east of Nashville, simply because it is an oval that is not owned by ISC – a sister company to NASCAR.

The Verizon IndyCar Series raced at Nashville Superspeedway from 2001 to 2008. The best races there were decent, while others were parades. In short, the racing was not good. Some blamed it on the concrete surface, while others said the track was too narrow.

In 2011 – my cohort from One Take Only John McLallen and I were at Barber riding in a shuttle van with Al Unser, Jr. John asked Little Al what he thought about the track. Al said that he thought the track got a bad rap. He said it was a one and a half groove race track, because only the bottom groove had undergone diamond-grinding. He thought the racing would have been much better had they gone ahead and ground the upper groove.

Whatever the case, IndyCar did not return after 2008 and the track closed for good after the 2011 racing season. There are still some private NASCAR tests at the track, but no scheduled events.

Last June, it was announced that a Nashville-based company I had never heard of (NeXovation) had agreed to buy the facility for a total of $47 million. As it turned out, the same company had tried to buy Germany’s Nürburgring in the spring of 2014. NeXovation had offered $207 Million, but the bid was rejected in favor of a group that had offered $139 million. That should tell you something.

Sexton’s answer? Sue the owners of the Nürburgring.

I have written articles about this subject several times. Without getting too repetitive, the Founder and CEO of NeXovation – Robb Sexton – sounds like a snake-oil salesman. His company here in Nashville owns an idea, but has no product. In 1986, Sexton patented Flatwire technology and in 2005, sold the rights of Flatwire to a group in Atlanta. Sexton ended up suing the company in 2011 for $500 million. The suit was eventually settled for an undisclosed sum. Flatwire is now back in control of Sexton and NeXovation. The plan is to relaunch Flatwire at some point, but as of last summer – there was nothing in production.

From an outsider’s viewpoint, NeXovation appears to be a company that exists on paper only. They have little or no income and no product – just thirty year-old technology. From this they plan on funding the purchase of race tracks.

I got a few e-mails last summer from people claiming I was misinformed or had no basis to doubt Sexton’s ability to put this deal together. Some said my negativity would kill the deal. First of all, I seriously doubt that an over-aged IndyCar blogger sitting in Nashville has any influence whatsoever on such deals going through. Secondly, I didn’t think the deal had a prayer of going through then – nor do I now.

Over the past year, one extension after another has been granted to NeXovation to secure the financing. Each extension has cost Sexton six figures, that is non-refundable and does not count towards the purchase price.

The latest extension came in the form of an announcement last week that the deal would go through. If you read last week’s announcing article however, it basically says that the close of the sale has been pushed again to May 27th. Altogether, Robb Sexton and NeXovation have paid out $800,000 in non-refundable penalties to track owner Dover Motorsports, just to keep the deal alive. From what I’ve heard locally, the “show of good faith” mentioned in the article is another $400,000 penalty for not closing the deal by last week. They had to fork that over or the deal was dead. All the penalties that Sexton has incurred are included in the $2.5 million that Sexton has invested in this deal.

Selfishly, I want someone to buy this track. There are few venues that are willing to host an IndyCar race, but I’ll bet this one would – with the right ownership. During the time that IndyCar raced here, it was a very well-attended event. I’m hopeful that IndyCar leadership would be willing to give it another go. With the caveat of – with the right ownership.

But while I would love to see it happen, I’d be willing to bet almost anything that this deal never goes through. I wish I were wrong, but I’m fairly certain I’m not.

By the time the latest deadline is met, it will have been a year since the offer was made. There’s a reason this deal is not going through; just as there is a reason the Nürburgring deal fell through in favor of an offer that was $68 million less than what Sexton offered. I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of multi-million dollar deals, but common sense should tell anyone that someone smells a rat.

The problem is, whenever the inevitable happens and the deal eventually does fall through – Robb Sexton’s history tells us that his next course of action will be to sue Dover Motorsports and tie the property up in litigation for years, making it completely unavailable to serious offers from any prospective buyers that may be looking to buy it.

It’s an attractive facility and will have some value to someone for the right price. Dover has been understandably willing to keep taking Robb Sexton’s good faith money for the past year. But eventually, they need to move the property to get it off their books. Let’s just hope some serious and more credible buyers will come forward, so that the folks at NeXovation can find somewhere else to waste their time and paper money.

George Phillips

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16 Responses to “And The Saga Continues…”

  1. Brian McKay in sunny Florida Says:

    Hope that you enjoyed your weekend. Thanks for blogging.

  2. Any track that is not owned by ISC is a good track. The corporation that is ruining racing everywhere any way they can.

  3. Sounds like NextAstronomy’s main product is litigation.

  4. sejarzo Says:

    I once interviewed with a “serial entrepreneur” who was in reality nothing more than a “serial litigator”. He actually admitted by the end of the session that his “success” ultimately depended on his legal team being better than that of his adversaries. Sounds as if Dover has regrettably entwined themselves in a potentially bad situation, possibly with the idea that if nothing else, they might net something in the seven figure range even if the sale never materialized.

  5. Well, I have always enjoyed the Nashville Super Speedway, so I would like to see these guys can pull this off. Also, I hope they know what they are doing when it comes to track management. At least, the smarts to hire someone who does.

  6. The Lapper Says:

    Buying the track is one thing. Operating it is another. If it is taking NeXovation all this time to find funding then where are they going to get the money to pay for the races? There are way too many wheels in motion to even get in to that, but suffice to say, it doesn’t look good.

  7. billytheskink Says:

    I like the “About NeXovation, Inc.” bit at the end of their most-rcent press release, it makes them sound like Vandelay Industries.

    “NeXovation, Inc. is a global, multi-industry innovation company that operates as an entrepreneurial conglomerate in the fields of innovation and technology, motorsports venues, automotive, aerospace, wiring, media, musical instruments and consumer products.”

    I’m still hopeful that the Nashville track will reopen, though. I cannot imagine what Nexovation would do with it if they do get their hands on it other than run it, and if it is open, I would think the track would be interested in hosting Indycar. No, I’m not a hopeless optimist, why do you ask?

  8. OK, I confess. I own NeXovation (it’s named after my dog), and I am trying to buy Nashville Superspeedway. I’m really just looking for a place where I can drive my new car (see my Twitter steam for pics). Sorry to be leading everybody on here. I’ll get my funding (currently sitting at about $300, or what was left of my budget after buying said car) sorted out soon enough, and you can all come watch me turn the fastest laps that my 116 HP will allow. It’ll be fun for the whole family (but mostly fun for me)!

  9. I’m not familiar with the deal or the parties but I can’t envision this going forward without some public financial assistence, if only for infrastructure. The track is interesting because of it’s non-standard length. Therein lies the problem. It’s to big to attract short track events, NASCAR Touring, Sprints, Midgets – I doubt Silver Crown would run there. You couldn’t run a weekly multi-class event event either, the size of the track would make insurance unaffordable and very few weekly racers are equipped to run a track this big. The only really viable series would be NASCAR Trucks, Xfinity and IndyCar. There is no way it would be financially feasible to operate this facility even if you could get all three, which in reality would never happen.

    • Public financial money. That would be Step 2.

    • The track has a road course as well as a track through the pit area for sprints. There is also a foundation for a dirt track and a drag strip, too. Dover could not complete the facility for lack of money and quit the development of the added facilities early. The infrastructure is already there.

  10. Ron Ford Says:

    Definition of saga: “A long history of heroic achievement”. When does the heroic part kick in?

  11. Hal Bush Says:

    Ron, don’t count these guys out of the “heroic achievement” business just yet. There is still plenty of activity ahead for us NSS/NeXovation enthusiasts. I am anticipating a very heroic effort by the boys with a law suit after this upcoming deadline has passed. When we look back on this we will see a saga alright, just not the one we expected

  12. Fred Thompson Says:

    How about an update to this article after the recent press.

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