By Taylor Goins
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In a rare scene, Nashville’s famous Broadway strip was closed to the public on Wednesday night. However, the street was far from vacant, as NASCAR’s 2021 Champion’s Week kicked off in earnest with Burnouts on Broadway, a smoke-filled celebration bathed in neon lights.
The 16 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Drivers, along with the Champions of the Xfinity Series, Camping World Truck Series, and ARCA Menards Series, lit up the streets of Downtown Nashville with a series of doughnuts and burnouts.
The atmosphere on Broadway was reminiscent of a parade, as people lined the sides of the streets to watch NASCAR’s top drivers show off their creativity and skills.
Despite rain in the area shortly before the event began, the burnouts were legendary and the crowd was electric. Each driver took turns tearing down Broadway with scores of fans surrounding them on both sides of the street.
Rutledge Wood and Kyle Petty served as unofficial “scorers” of the event and awarded drivers points based on how much smoke and excitement was generated during each run.
Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson gave strong performances, but it was Kevin Harvick who walked away victorious. Harvick delivered a burnout for the ages and blew out both rear tires before walking away and leaving his powerless Busch Light Ford Mustang to be pushed away by the event crew.
Larson, the newly crowned NASCAR Cup Series Champion, added some flair to his run by removing the steering wheel while doing doughnuts and having his father (a passenger) hoist it outside of the window like a trophy.
When asked about this impressive trick, Larson said with a smile and a laugh, “There’s only one steering wheel in the car. We were passing it back and forth, and I had to hit him because I needed it back at one point.”
After a season with 10 points-awarding wins, Larson has had ample time to practice his burnouts, and ensured that 2021’s final doughnut did not disappoint.
In NASCAR, burnouts always take place after an event worthy of celebration, typically a race win. The Burnouts of Broadway event stayed true to this theme, as it set the stage for the sport’s annual year-end celebration festivities, which will be capped on Thursday with the Awards and Champion Celebration banquet.
However, the Burnouts on Broadway also held a special celebratory significance for the city of Nashville. 2021 was a banner year for racing in the Music City, as NASCAR’s top three touring series returned to Nashville Superspeedway in June.
It was the first time that racing had occurred at Nashville Superspeedway since 2011 and it marked the beginning of a summer racing renaissance, as the new SRX Series came to Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway in July and the IndyCar Series went to the streets of Nashville in August.
With such a wonderful year of racing in the books—combined with the prospect of NASCAR returning to the Fairgrounds Speedway in the near future—the celebratory burnouts in Nashville could not have seemed more appropriate.
The burnouts also signified the end of an era, as this was the last time (albeit unofficially) that NASCAR Cup Series drivers piloted their Gen 6 cars. The Cup Series will move to use of the Next Gen car beginning with the season-opening exhibition Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum next February, so the magnificent show put on by each of the 2021 playoff drivers served as a fitting send off for the Gen 6 machine that put on some incredible racing during its time from 2013-2021.
As the Gen 6 chapter closes, it provides appropriate time to both look forward to the next generation of NASCAR with optimism and to appreciate the great memories from the past nine years, and what better way is there than to burn it down and end on a high note in Music City?