Rodney Atkins, Taylor Swift, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Hank Williams, Jr. and Montgomery Gentry are just a few of the country stars who have performed at NASCAR's Sound & Speed festival since it began in 2006. But now, as a result of a struggling economy and lingering effects from Nashville's flood earlier this year, NASCAR has announced they will discontinue the event in 2011.

"It's unfortunate that various economic conditions and, more importantly, the fact that much of middle Tennessee is still struggling to recover from the terrible flooding that occurred there last May, preclude us from staging another highly successful event," NASCAR President Mike Helton states. "Therefore, it is with great regret that we share the news that Sound and Speed will no longer continue in 2011."

Known as the official kick-off to the NASCAR season, the two-day event started with a Friday evening concert held at the historic Ryman Auditorium, and was followed by an all-day event on Saturday at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, allowing both country music and NASCAR fans to get meet their favorite artists and drivers under one roof.

Sound & Speed has raised more than one million dollars since it's inception in 2006, with proceeds benefiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Victory Junction Gang Camp, founded by driver Kyle Petty and his wife, Pattie.

Country stars will still have plenty of opportunity to embrace racing.The sport has historically invited Music City artists to perform at their races, including Gretchen Wilson, the Zac Brown Band, Blake Shelton and Bucky Covington. According to one hitmaker, the mutual affinity will continue for years to come. "The thing that ties us together are the people who follow the sport," Rodney tells The Boot. "We played the Speedstreet event and over 10,000 people came out to see us play. They were consistent with a country music crowd; they are the same kind of folks."

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon will join a host of country music artists and fans at the CMA Awards next week, when he presents one of the trophies. The CMA Awards will air live Wednesday, November 10 on ABC from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

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