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.
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