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« New Hampshire may represent make or break moment for Junior’s Chase hopes | Main | Johnson proving that he deserves more credit for team’s success than he is given »

Bruton Smith’s “We don’t want to” summarizes view of fan needs by NASCAR leadership

By admin | July 15, 2011

By Richard Allen

 

For some time now it has been thought and expressed by fans and media members that those at the highest levels of the NASCAR ladder have lost contact with the fans they are meant to serve. The sanctioning body, track owners, team owners, drivers and even certain television commentators seem to be clueless as to the needs and desires of those who actually foot the bills, the paying customers.

Bruton Smith’s comments made during a press conference at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway regarding last week’s debacle during the inaugural Sprint Cup race weekend at the Kentucky Speedway brought that clearly home on Friday.

In that combative question and answer session Smith blamed everyone imaginable except himself and his Speedway Motorsports, Inc. company for the traffic congestion and other problems surrounding that event.

The governor of Kentucky was blasted for traffic woes although it was never mentioned that there were not enough spaces for cars to be parked, and thus, there was no where for them to go which is why the interstate was backed up.

Smith also failed to bring up that his earliest communications with the state’s leader after his purchase of the track were about an airport for private planes of a small number of those attending Kentucky Speedway events, not about traffic issues involving 99% of the people who would attend the event.

The company that parked cars was also criticized by the SMI Chairman. However, he seemed to gloss over the fact that it was his company’s responsibility to contract for parking and to oversee that assignment to be sure it was being handled effectively.

And most insulting to fans, when asked if there would be any refunds given to those who were unable to get inside the track, Smith’s answer was a sharp, “We don’t want to.” Wow, so much for the customer comes first.

Even massive Wal-Mart is more responsive than that.

But fans should not be surprised by Smith’s comments. They should be getting used to them from the higher-ups in this sport.

When fans ask about scraping the Car of Tomorrow, the Chase for the Championship, wave-arounds, etc… the answer coming back from the sanctioning body may not be so audible but it is still, “We don’t want to.”

When fans ask about lowering ticket and concession prices even when race venues are half empty, the not so subtle answer coming back from tracks is simply, “We don’t want to.”

When fans ask why Sprint Cup drivers won’t stop running in lower division races, the answer comes back from team owners and drivers as , “We don’t want to.”

Speed’s Kenny Wallace went on Twitter openly making fun of complaints by fans after the Kentucky race while Fox/Speed‘s Darrell Waltrip was on television brushing off traffic concerns on race day as if it was nothing. If they had been asked why not care more for fans their answer might as well have been, “We don’t want to.”

For too long people like the NASCAR hierarchy, Bruton Smith, team owners and television commentators have acted like they are involved in some sort of business in which customer service does not matter because the fans have no other place to go. Well, NASCAR does not have the same monopoly as oil companies, they have to care about fan wants and needs.

If Bruton Smith represents those at the top of the NASCAR ladder, and he does, fans may soon be saying, “We don’t want to,” when asked why they are no longer coming back.

Topics: Articles |

14 Responses to “Bruton Smith’s “We don’t want to” summarizes view of fan needs by NASCAR leadership”

  1. russ Edwards Says:
    July 15th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Richard, probably the most reasoned article I’ve seen regarding the character of one of the power brokers of Nascar.

    I guess it is human nature to deny the truth about something that you care about. However its amazing to me how they have been able to treat so many people so shodilly
    for so long.

  2. Susan Says:
    July 15th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I completely agree. But if NASCAR continues to go downhill, with sponsors pulling out of the sport and positions with raceteams dwindling, the main groups of people affected will be all those who work on the cars and their families. Obviously, this is a horrible time for them to have to look for another line of work-not just another job, another line of work. Also, they would all be concentrated in the Charlotte area. It seems as though everybody takes these mechanics, pitcrews, crewchiefs, engineers, and all the other roles involved for granted. The owners and drivers (who wouldn’t have to work if the sport collapsed) couldn’t do any of this without the thousands of men and women in these supporting roles. Their salaries range greatly. The higher ups all the way down to some of the arrogant drivers need to get their heads out of their you know whats and do what’s best for the sport. Fans can survive without the sport, but every month, it seems more and more employees are forced to look for jobs outside of NASCAR. Imagine if things continue as they are and all of these people are out of jobs-all because of some self-centered, lazy businessmen.

  3. Nascarxtm Says:
    July 15th, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Perhaps when the fans leave en masse, they will ask us why we don’t attend races or watch on TV, and we can respond, “because we don’t want to”.

  4. Chuck Ellison Says:
    July 16th, 2011 at 1:15 am

    I have the perfect blog coming up to address NASCAR and Mr. Brain France … follow me on twitter @primetimechuck and if I can get enough fans to read this blog I promise I will corner Steve O’Donnel and Brain France to the best of my ability… I will do my best to get answers…. o’donnell has already commented on my first blg. the big letter to the upper brass is coming out on the 26th of this month. I am going to try to set twitter and facebook on, fire to grab attention to this cause. Anyone who wants to aide my cause can search for the facebook group TEAM SAVE NASCAR . I am almost ready to give up on this sport ever waking up. This will be a make or break thing for me I believe.

  5. Erich Says:
    July 16th, 2011 at 6:55 am

    This traffic debacle is the strongest evidence for my long-standing theory that NASCAR cares more for the tv networks and ratings than they do the fans in the stands. The traffic didn’t affect the tv broadcast in any way, so they dismiss its importance (just like ticket and souvenir prices). Can you name one change to the sport in the last ten years that wasn’t directly geared to improving ratings? The network tv deal of 2001 killed our sport and sold its soul.

  6. Sue Rarick Says:
    July 16th, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Great article Rich, I’m reminded of the saying, “Those that forget history are bound to repeat it”. I remember when USAC was the top of racing. I remember when Indy cars and drivers were the top of racing. And now it’s NASCAR. USAC and INDY cars have now been relegated to the second string and so can NASCAR. Nobody is pointing a gun to the fans heads and making them buy tickets.

    I did find Bruton’s comment about moving the July race to Vegas outright funny. I have been rock climbing in the Red Desert in July (Which does prove there is insanity in my family). It was 115 F. The average daytime temperatures in Vegas, in July is 104 F. Even if the race was held under lights the temperatures would hover around 100 F. July is one of the slower tourist months in Las Vegas. The March race benifits from cabin fever and great weather in Vegas. The same can’t be said for July.

    His other option is going back to Atlanta which he can’t even sell out one race, let alone two.

  7. Wayne T. Morgan Says:
    July 16th, 2011 at 8:28 am

    I gave up on NA$CAR about ten years ago and if i watch at all I DVR the race. Cars, Stars, Tracks, are all the same.
    People should know by now it is not a fan friendly sport anymore, it’s for making money for the big boys at fan’s expense. Wanna see real racing and have a great time? Watch WOO late models, sprints or any other touring dirt shows.

  8. Sue Rarick Says:
    July 16th, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Quick correction………Redrock desert (I always screw that up)

  9. Tyler West Says:
    July 16th, 2011 at 9:07 am

    It was a great article on how messed up things have gotten. Mr. Smith is an arrogant jerk. I am so sick of everyone blowing smoke up the rear of the Las Vegas venue. Then he even went as far as to make a racially charged comment toward the Homestead track. I can’t stand how everyone gushes over Vegas. I hate the fact they hold the banquet there at the end of the year. In my opinion when they no longer held that event at the Waldorf the sport took a step back. Vegas is cheap and tacky. It does not surprise me that Smith would not be any different. He is a real piece of you know what. It really breaks my heart to see what the powers that be have turned the sport, I love dearly, into. All these new tracks are nice facilities but terrible races. Bruton Smith is a major reason for this.

  10. Joe from Pittsburgh Says:
    July 16th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I think the fans have already said “we dont want to” already about not coming back. A lot of tracks have empty seats….

  11. No_Longer_a_Fan Says:
    July 16th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    If the hierarchy of Nascar’s thoughts on making real positive changes to the sport for the benefit of the fan is a resounding “NO”, then perhaps it is time for the fans to vote with the dollar and their tv remotes by sending a clean and concise “we’re not going to take it” to Nascar by boycotting their ever increasingly boring snooze fests. Can Nascar be fixed? Sure. There are a couple simple steps they can take. For starters, if they insist on keeping the dreadful mile and a half tracks, they should look into shortening the races. As far as the cars, make them as close to the street versions as possible. To hell with all this parity, I’d rather see a race where down force isn’t such an issue. There’s a few more difficult steps, such as more diversity in the tracks which are run. Bring back North Wilksboro, and Rockingham as well as add a couple road courses. And last but not least, give teams an option at restricter plate races in the form of either a restricted V8 or a non-restricted V6 putting out similar power. I know Nascar will never do anything the fans want, so I know, I just wasted my time.

  12. Ron U Says:
    July 17th, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Your are so right in your views about the arrogant and greedy Bruton Smith. I think the fans need to put extreme pressure on NASCAR so they realize Smith is a poor representative of this terrific sport.

    I was one of those 10,000-20,000 fans that waited 5 hours to get in and was turned away because I was treating my disabled friend to the race and the shuttles were not handicap accessible. This is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. I should add that I have been to a number of NASCAR races and I am always in my seat with hours to spare so I know how to plan for these events.

    When asked about the ticket exchange policy, my repsonse is, “I don’t want to”. I filed a dispute with MasterCard and I encourage everyone to do so as well.

  13. jerseygirl24 Says:
    July 17th, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Well done, Rich. Absolutely perfectly on point. I don’t watch a lot of the nascar programming any more in particular because of Kenny the Klown Wallace and his ridiculous comments about the fans and DW who has become so “its all about me” in his way of commenting that it is no longer interesting or enjoyable.

    When the TV contract came out in 2001, I did my best to never miss a moment of practice, qualifying, pre-race, race and post race. These days, I tune in if I have time and then with the tv on mute for the last 20 laps which is really all that matters.

    I miss the fun that racing used to be, both at the track and on TV and for the various people in charge be they NASCAR, tv commentators, media, track promoters and any other talking heads who cover nascar to blame the fans who are the paying customers is so unreal to me, it is both amazing and appalling.

    I especially agree that the statement should be made back to all these entities regarding why the fans aren’t watching or attending races as much “we don’t want to”.

    I hope that the KY taxpayers do not allow Bruton and his strongarm tactics to take away money from what are most likely far more important programs to build roads to the track.

  14. Charles Says:
    July 18th, 2011 at 7:22 am

    The comment that really show the attitude is when Bruton was asked would he more Charlotte Motor Speedway races to another track if he was not allowed to build the drag race track!

    His answer was a yes he would move it!!

    Mabe its high time to call his bluff!! He is wanting to bulling the people of Concord on paying for a highway at the track, he is using that as a bulling pulpit to get what he wants!

    Bruton Smith has done good things for the sport, but mabe his time like other things has passed and mabe its time for Charlotte to go as well, we still have other tracks based in North Carolina that would love to have the Charlotte race dates without all the taxpayer subsities!