Tips to Get the Most from Music City Grand Prix 2023
You pay a pretty penny for this event. Let’s make your money count by heeding these hacks and tips. Also included is daily highlight list and answers to “Where’s the closest __.”
FYI: General admission prices for the three-day event start at $139 and top out at $2,850 for the Club RPM package which includes paddock pass, concert access, food and premium bar. (Top photo credit and more info: MusicCityGP.com)
What’s new this year?
For the first time, there’s a twilight race Saturday night at 7:55 and they’re getting an earlier start on Sunday with the first race at 9:05am.
Take the train to avoid the traffic.
WeGo Star, our train line (formerly Music City Star), will make a special run on Sunday, August 6 to accommodate race fans. Park free at one of the stations along the route from Lebanon to Riverfront Park in downtown Nashville and catch the train. It’s a great option for people staying in Donelson, Mt. Juliet or other communities east of Nashville proper.
Round trip reservations are only $15 plus a $2 processing fee. There’s not a dedicated webpage but you can search the WeGo website for details.
Beware the heat.
Dress in lightweight, light-colored clothes that breathe. If you’re wearing a hat, keep in mind that baseball caps and straw hats also breathe; felt cowboy hats don’t. Wear sunscreen; otherwise you be rightly mocked for looking like a lobster.
Maintain happy feet.
You’ll likely walk a good bit so think about your feet. Every year I see dozens of people limping down Broadway in just-bought cowboy boots. They may be stylin’ but they’ll also be hurtin’. Wear comfortable shoes.
Carry only the essentials.
Big Machine Music City Grand Prix has instituted a clear bag policy. Translation: all items you carry must fit into a 12″ x 12″ x 6″ transparent bag. Non-transparent bags must be 4.5″ x 6.5″ or smaller. All are subject to inspection by security.
Suggested items: Photo ID, money/credit card, sunblock, sunglasses, lodging key, hat, phone, poncho or rain jacket, insurance card (in case of emergency), lip balm, contact info if you’re traveling alone. Handy to have: safety pins (for wardrobe malfunctions), band-aids (for blisters).
What not to bring.
Outside food and beverages (an empty water bottle is allowed), video recording devices, lawn chairs, coolers, firearms or other weapons, bicycles, roller blades, non-collapsible strollers and wagons. Cameras are allowed (but no long or detachable lenses). Umbrellas are permitted through admission gates but cannot be used in grandstands.
Drink a lot of water.
More than you think you need. Not to offend but, if your urine is darker than pale yellow, it is likely you’re dehydrated. Good to know: they’ve increased the number of free water stations this year. There’s some disagreement about the hydration value of sodas and beer but neither is a substitute for plain ol’ water. And speaking of alcohol…
Legal age is 21.
The legal minimum age for purchase of alcoholic products is 21 and you can count on being carded so carry a government-issued photo ID.
Getting around downtown.
If you’re staying downtown, no sweat–because pretty much everything is within walking distance. If you’re lodging in a nearby hotel, check on the availability of a hotel shuttle; some provide rides to destinations within three miles–but may not run late into the evening.
Of course, you can also hail a cab or ride-share but Uber/Lyft will probably be operating at their higher surge rates; still it may prove less costly than paying for downtown parking. But if you are driving…
Know where you’re parked.
Onsite parking can be reserved at MusicCityGP.com. If you’re parking elsewhere, take these tips: Make a note of where you’re parking or take a picture of signs or landmarks within view. If you’re into apps, use one like Find My Car Smarter, Anchor Pointer or Honk that allow you to record the exact GPS of your vehicle. You’ll find more specific guidance for off-site parking at my post Parking Made Easier.
Is there wheelchair accessibility?
Yes. Each grandstand has wheelchair-accessible seating in Row A. Companion seating is available when an accessible ticket is purchased. For other helpful info, visit Navigating Nashville with a Wheelchair.
What about rideshares?
Drop-off and pick-up will be handled at two locations adjacent to the stadium. Northside is on Woodland Street Bridge at South 1st Street. Southside is on Crutcher Stree at South 2nd Street. You may find shorter wait times if you cross the pedestrian bridge to downtown. Expect surge pricing.
Alert your credit card company that you’re traveling.
If you’re from Dallas or Dublin and suddenly there are charges from Nashville, it may be flagged as suspicious by your credit card company. Worst case scenario: your card is frozen until you track down a bank representative who verifies you’re you. Alert your credit card provider of your travel plans in advance so Nashville charges won’t seem amiss.
Don’t skip a meal, especially since the heat will zap your energy. The best off-site deals I know of : Robert’s Western World on Broadway offers its Recession Special: $6 for fried bologna sandwich with chips and a PBR. Mike’s Ice Cream & Coffee on 2nd Ave. N. sells muffins and bagels for $2.50. Keep scrolling to see a list of nearby grocery stores and convenience stores.
Where to eat–east side.
If you’re on the east side of the Cumberland River–that’s the stadium side–you have three choices: buy from the on-site vendors, visit Nashville City Kitchen at 110 Interstate Drive or take a pretty long walk (or short ride) to East Nashville restaurants.
Where to eat–west side.
On the west side, your closest options for quick meals near the course are Subway and the hot-food section of the Shell station on Hermitage Avenue (I’ve eaten there for years.) Pinewood Social (pricey but a cool vibe) off Hermitage Avenue, S. is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The downtown sister of the legendary Pancake Pantry is at 220 Molloy Street. Crema is a coffeehouse with a short menu of toasts, quiches, granola and muesli. Martin’s Bar-B-Que always draws a crowd; if it’s slammed on the first floor, try going upstairs to the bar. (More barbecue suggestions here.)
This area called SoBro (South of Broadway) skews toward upscale dining with restaurants including Etch, The Southern Steak & Oyster, and Husk.
Free music is everywhere.
The honky tonks don’t charge a cover–but remember to tip the musicians. (Notes: some honky tonks with good rooftop views of the race course may institute a charge for that level.) You’ll also find live music in restaurants, hotel lobbies, boot stores, street corners, and the airport. Learn more from my Complete Guide to Lower Broadway Honky Tonks.
Is anything free with Music City Grand Prix?
Not along the course but there are places you can view the cars without ponying up for a ticket. Try the pedestrian bridge or up the hill on the western side of the course.
Where’s the closest _____?
- Walgreen’s Our only downtown pharmacy at 226 5th Ave., N. Store hours: M-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat. 8am-7pm, Sun 9am-6pm. Pharmacy hours: M-F 7:30am-5:30pm, Closed on Sat-Sun.
- Corner Market at 300 Church St. crams a ton of merchandise in a slender space. If you need a cup of non-designer coffee, a toothbrush, Red Bull or Pepto-Bismol, these folks can hook you up. Note: they’re open later than the others. Hours: Sun-Thurs, 7am-9pm; Fr-Sat, 7am-midnight.
- Southernaire is in SoBro, south of Broadway at 150 3rd Ave, S.. You won’t find Cheerios or Gatorade here; it’s an upscale market with artisanal products, locally grown produce, a selection of bottled craft beers, a butcher’s counter and a prepared food spot for paninis and daily specials.
- Dollar General Store (DGX), 206 3rd Avenue, S. This location caters to the tourist population with items you won’t find in the typical Dollar General. Basically an urban convenience store.
- Turnip Truck, located in The Gulch at 321 12th Ave. S., advertises itself as “your natural grocery.” Translation: fresh, locally sourced, whole foods along with a juice bar, salad bar and hot food bar. Hours: M-Sat 7:00am-9pm, Sun 8am-8pm.
- Whole Foods at 1202 Broadway includes a hot bar, in-house bakery and a dining area. Open 7am-10pm daily.
- Publix-Capitol View is a smaller-than-average store but still has a butcher shop, bakery and deli. Open 7am-10pm daily.
Here are your options:
Complete Health Partners 301 Church Street. Last patient check-in is 30 minutes before closing. Hours: M-F 8am-4pm.
The next closest walk-in clinic is Concerta Urgent Care, 315 14th Ave. N., (615-321-5698) Hours: M-Fri, 7am-5pm. All other walk-in clinics are located beyond the downtown area and none stay open beyond 8pm.
9:30am Gates open
10:00am Practice begins
4:30pm Stadium Super Trucks Practice/Qualifying
7:00pm Freedom Friday concert featuring Brian Kelley (formerly of Florida Georgia Line), Vince Neil, Chris Janson and Gavin DeGraw.
8:00am Music City Miles & Memories Bike/Walk/Run/Ruck
8:30am Gates open
9:00am Cumberland Stage–live music until 7:00pm
11:15am Trans Am Series Qualifying
12:20pm Indy NXT Qualifying
1:00pm NTT IndyCar Series Qualifying/Firestone Fast 6
3:00pm Trans Am race
4:15pm SRO GT America Qualifying
4:35pm SRO GR Cup Qualifying
5:15pm NTT IndyCar Series Final Practice
6:00pm Main Stage concert featuring Flo Rida
6:30pm Stadium Super Trucks Race 1
7:15pm SRO GR Cup Race 1
7:55pm SRO GT AMerica Race 1
9:30pm Track/Gates close
7:30am Gates open
9:00am Worship hosted by Jay DeMarcus (formerly of Rascal Flatts) with Jason Crabb, Consumed By Fire, Cade Thompson and Iveth Luna
9:05am Indy NXT Race
10:00am Cumberland Stage–live music till 11:30am
10:05am NTT IndyCar Series PreRace ceremony
11:30am NTT IndyCar Series Big Machine Music Grand Prix
2:30pm Stadium Super Trucks Race 2
3:20pm SRO GT America Race 2
4:10pm SRO GR Cup Rase 2
6:00pm Track/Gates close