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The only poll that matters regarding Bristol was taken on race day

By admin | April 25, 2012

By Richard Allen


On Wednesday morning, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. chairman O. Bruton Smith announced that his company was proceeding with a plan to grind the upper lane of the Bristol Motor Speedway down to the point that the banking in the turns would be uniform from bottom to top. It is hoped that the removal of the so-called progressive banking will return the track to what it was prior to a 2007 resurfacing and reconfiguration.

A decision was made by the track after this year’s March 18th running of the Food City 500 to conduct a poll asking fans whether or not they wanted the track returned to its former self. In reality, the decision to go ahead with today’s announced plan was most likely made before any fan votes were cast in the unofficial survey.

The most important poll to BMS and any other track is that of ticket sales. And since the 2007 reconfiguration, attendance at the track once called a sports ‘bucket list’ item had steadily declined to the point that the number of empty seats appeared to match the number of those filled in March.

After it was announced that the results of the poll were 60% in favor of making no changes at the present time and 40% in favor of returning the track to its previous layout, much was made on Twitter that the lower number had won out. But what has to be considered is that an unofficial poll on an internet website does not make Speedway Motorsports any money. However, ticket sales do add to the company’s bottom line.

Now that the grinding has been formally announced, the question is whether or not fans will return to the facility in the same numbers as had been the case a decade ago. Trouble is, once an audience is lost, it is difficult to get it back. Think of how many businesses in your community you have seen recover from a major setback after posting a sign that reads, ‘Under New Management’. Probably not many, right?

Granted, there are other factors at work in keeping people away from Bristol. Gas prices, hotel rates, a weakened economy and other issues have not helped the track. But in my discussions with fans in east Tennessee who do not have to pay for hotel rooms and have fewer miles to drive, the reconfiguration of 2007 is what they say is keeping them from going to the track.

I’ve had more than a few local fans tell me that, “They screwed up the track”. The point being, as I wrote after the race in March, the track changes simply made BMS into just another track.

Hotel prices have always been high around the Bristol area on race weekends. There were ups and downs in the economy during the track’s streak of 50+ consecutive sellouts. Those things became a factor after 2007 because the track was suddenly just like every other track and there was no reason to go out of the way to make the pilgrimage.

BMS fell off of a lot of people’s bucket list. It’s time to see if it will go back on those lists now that the only poll that matters was taken into consideration.

Check out my Audio Podcast: Random thoughts about Trevor Bayne, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch -> Random thoughts on Trevor Bayne, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch

Also, this was written just after this year’s Food City 500-> Bristol had so many empty seats because the track is no longer what it’s supposed to be

Topics: Articles |

6 Responses to “The only poll that matters regarding Bristol was taken on race day”

  1. Charles Says:
    April 25th, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I think and know this might sound alittle of base, would like to see Nascar go back and I mean really back, and have some dirt tracks on the circuit!

    Dirt track racing was in Nascar schedule as late as 1971…if they could get a track say like N.Wilkesboro and a few others to remove the pavement….believe in this day and would be a hit!

    It would have all the things fans are looking for nowadays…close action…loose cars….hard driving no riding…less aero dependent…and unpredicable action…putting more emphasis on drivers talents!

    Nascar needs to look at all things that just a few years ago was unthinkable…timing could be just right for Nascar dirt track racing again…

  2. Sue Rarick Says:
    April 26th, 2012 at 6:32 am

    While I’m a firm believer in most problems are cumulative and don’t have a single cause. I do think in general the tracks in Nascar have gotten more similar. Add to that the fact that the cars appear to be similar and Nascar’s put the teams into such a tight box, it’s no wonder the races all seem to flow into one another. A classic, been there done it, syndrome.

    Let me couch the next part with the fact I have driven cars on some of the tracks available on iRacing. So I can say that the tracks on iRacing are scary similar to the real tracks.

    The reconfigured tracks seem to be reconfigured in order to create side by side racing. In itself not a bad thing. But in doing that they have taken out some of the challenge and character of the tracks.

    For example the old Phoenix track turns 1 and 4 had to be tip toed through. Get it right and it was awesome. Get it wrong and …crash. The new configuration is faster but far less challenging. There is a lot more wiggle room. You might as well run the same car set-up you did at Iowa. The old configuration just by having more difficult corners tended to keep the cars closer and promote more side by side racing.

    The point isn’t how accurate iRacing is, but how the tracks have gotten to the point you aren’t missing anything special if you happen to not watch a race or not go to a race. This is a case of close counts. No, they aren’t exactly alike, but close enough to appear alike and provide the same type racing.

    As you pointed out hotel prices always rise during special events, no matter where the event is. And gas prices are not really out of line to where they were in the 1960’s compared to what people earn and inflation.

  3. Wayne T. Morgan Says:
    April 26th, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Ditto on what Charles said! Dirt is where the action is and at affordable prices as well Just got two three day tickets to a 40,000 to win late model race and including hotel is 225.00. And it’s sold out as well for Aug. Just sayin’.

  4. Ken Says:
    April 26th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I live 50 miles from the track and after going to a night race after the track was ruined, I will not return until the excitement returns. In addition to the changes of the track, the generic cars and points racing from the green flag at Daytona has made the racing less exciting. Also, the drivers have been neutered by potential penalties and loss of sponsorship if they are not politically correct and nice to each other.

    There is more wrong with racing than just the track surfaces.

  5. Glen H. Says:
    April 26th, 2012 at 9:58 am

    If Bruton wants to bring the crowds back to Bristol, he needs to do more than just grind and repave the track:

    1. He needs to git rid of the COT. The COT raced at Britol before the reconfiguration and the race was pretty much a borefest. THe COT doesn’t handle.

    2. He needs to have Goodyear make softer tires. The tires today don’t wear and that’s probably the biggest factor in the boring races at Bristol and other tracks.

    3. He needs to get NASCAR to let open up the setups on the cars so the teams have more room ot make changes. If everyone is runnin the same basic setup in the same basic car - no one has an advantage over anyone else. Give the teams more flexability and some teams will hit the setup and some won’t making for a more interesting race.

    4. Get NASCAR to drop the Chase. Everyone is points racing and doesn’t want to take any chances or risks that could put them out of the race. If you can ride around and get a 8th or 9th place finish, why take a chance and go for the lead if there’s a risk of knocking yourself out of the race. 8th place points are better than 43rd and the difference between 1st and 8th isn’t going to make taking a big risk worth it if all you’re trying to do make the Chase.

    If Bruton does all of this, we might get back to the ‘old’ racing at Bristol. I’m just not sure that changing only the track will bring back the old racing.

  6. midasmicah Says:
    April 26th, 2012 at 10:00 am

    While wrecks can make for exciting racing, no one wants to see a driver get hurt. My problem is with drivers’ not willing to mix it up due to the points racing. The mile and a half tracks are boring enough. Mix in the “non racing” by whiny millionaire drivers who could care less about the fans and you have a recipe for disaster.