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Will fans return to the ‘old’ Bristol?

By admin | March 29, 2012

By Richard Allen


According to a statement from Speedway Motorsports, Inc., the fans have spoken and changes will be forthcoming for the Bristol Motor Speedway. Work will begin within the next few days and is expected to be completed in time for the week of NASCAR racing activities to be held there in late August.

In 2007 the track was resurfaced and its layout changed with the addition of progressive banking to allow for more side by side racing. Although it has been argued that other factors played a more significant role, the fact is that attendance for races held at the ‘Roman Colosseum’ of racing has declined dramatically since that time. The recent Food City 500 was contested in front of grandstands that were half full at best.

“The race fans have spoken,” SMI chairman O. Bruton Smith said in a press release. “We had input that included a wide range of opinions. But the majority we heard from said they wanted to see changes made. The question we wanted to answer as quickly as possible was `Is something going to be done?’ The answer to that is `yes.’ We will have the details in two weeks as to what that `something’ is.”

Previously, BMS officials had been adamant in their claims that the track could not easily be reverted to its previous layout of a uniform 36 degree banking from bottom to top. While that layout may not provide for very much side by side racing, it does create the need for the bump and run maneuver, or ‘Bristol Bump’ as it came to be known, in which drivers tap the car in front of them to move it out of the primary racing groove.

The statement released does not specifically say that the track will be returned to its old configuration but only that “We will have details in two weeks”. So, it remains to be seen whether or not those changes will satisfy fan demands.

What will prove to be most interesting is whether or not fans will return in full force to the 150,000+ seat facility that at one time had registered more than 50 consecutive sellouts.

There will no doubt be a great deal of buzz regarding these changes as the August races approach. And considering that the late summer event is run at night, the party-like atmosphere has remained more successful at attracting fans, even as interest has waned for the sprint event. Last year’s night race was listed as a near sellout although there were pockets of empty seats visible throughout the stadium.

The real test for the new layout, whatever that is, will come next spring. If the type of racing that saw Dale Earnhardt, Sr. deliver the ‘Bristol Bump’ to Terry Labonte or Jeff Gordon bump and run his way to victory around Rusty Wallace returns in August of 2012, it will likely provide a major boost for ticket sales in the spring of 2013.

If the ‘old’ Bristol truly returns, so will the fans.

Topics: Articles |

6 Responses to “Will fans return to the ‘old’ Bristol?”

  1. NewMarketMauler Says:
    March 29th, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    “If the ‘old’ Bristol truly returns, so will the fans.”

    That’s it. Agree 100%

  2. Russ Says:
    March 29th, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Certainly fans will return, if for no other reason than curiousity. If they do not, then Nascar will have the answer to where they stand on the sporting landscape.

    If I were a betting man, however, I would expect a less expensive change than reconstructing the track. That would not only be expensive but time consuming. Perhaps it will be tires, or some modification to the cars. But we shall see.

  3. Sue Rarick Says:
    March 30th, 2012 at 6:08 am

    When the phrase ‘fuel mileage race’ and Bristol are in the same sentence, something needs to be done. My preference is cutting down the progressive banking AND softening the tires so that there is a noticeable drop off in times.

    The second problem I see is that the surrounding business’ have remained stupid greedy (as opposed to just greedy). There is a finite amount of money to be spent on recreation. And the prices charged in that area during a race weekend are cutting to much into that budget.

    Chicago is just as far from Nashville as Bristol. Given exact ticket prices which would cost less? The money saved on hotel/motel costs would finance going to another race. Would the racing be as good? No. But I could enjoy the sights and sounds of Nascar twice for the cost of one Bristol race.

  4. Charles Says:
    March 30th, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Until they wake up to the real problem in Nascar racing..its not just Bristol…all the others mostly have become more boring!

    Lets face it…there is not real incentive to pass and take changes since the format of the Chase System…all the money is at the end of year!

    Until they change how the game is played..dont think it will help…Racing is about passing..this taking a top 5 or 10 senerio will be the norm until something is done to ‘put a rabbit in front of these drivers to pass”

    Somehow they have to demote the Chase..and put more incentive in the race…

  5. Keith Says:
    March 30th, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I’m not going back until the date is moved to April no more 31 degree camping in the mountains for me.

  6. MartyC Says:
    March 30th, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Everyone of the 75% that voted to return to the “Old Bristol” had better show up to place their butts in one of those seats, otherwise they’ve torn up a perfectly good racetrack that provided a good race.