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Will fans fill Bristol or are they waiting to see what happens before they come back?

By admin | August 22, 2012

By Richard Allen


I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the country but here in east Tennessee we have been constantly bombarded with advertising for Saturday’s Sprint Cup race at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Keep in mind that this event hardly needed any advertising to sell out prior to the track changes made a few years ago.

That media blitz continues right up to the last minute. BMS just this week sent out a mass e-mail that declared, “You have to see it to believe it.” I’m wondering just how many fans will indeed make the decision to see it and how many are waiting for a race or two to believe it.

In 2007, officials from the track’s parent company, Speedway Motorsports, Inc., decided to resurface the half-mile track. As part of that change, the facility’s famous 36 degree banking was reduced and progressive banking was installed. Since that time, drivers have lauded the new configuration for its “race-ability” while fans have increasingly shown their displeasure by staying away in greater numbers each year, particularly in the March race.

After the most recent race on the track, which featured a grandstand with large numbers of empty seats, SMI chairman O. Bruton Smith opted to do something. A fan vote on the track’s website was held and the decision was made to change the track. So, the banking in the upper groove was shaved down in an attempt to narrow the racing line and bring back “Racing the way it ought to be.”

Obviously, the officials from SMI hope fans will come back and fill those 160,000 seats that ring the concrete speedway. But it remains to be seen whether or not they will.

Another thing that remains to be seen is how many people actually will pay this time around to watch the race. There have been more ticket giveaways on radio stations and a number of other platforms over the past few weeks around here than I can ever remember prior to an August race.

So how about you? Are you going to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend or are you waiting to see how the track changes will affect the racing?

Topics: Articles |

14 Responses to “Will fans fill Bristol or are they waiting to see what happens before they come back?”

  1. don clingerman Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 4:16 am

    I’m going, but partially because I could not give my season tickets away. I think the crowd may be moderately better than last fall, markedly better than spring, but I predict the racing will be lame following the hype. I know they typically race a bit differently, bit I attended tonight’s truck race and it was the poorest excuse for a race that I’ve seen in a long time, any division, any where. WOW how boring- not much action at all.

    I don’t think the ‘changes’ made to the track since spring will change thigns much at all. Bruton should have REALLY changed it up and dug the place up, like he alluded to. Put it back the way it was before.

    AND as someone pointed out in another article, The Chase has ruined the racing at Bristol too….drivers are not as willing to bump and rub and make it exciting with too much at stake re: The Chase. Just another thing the ridiculous spectacle that is The Chase ruined.

    THEN add in the dopey cars they’re racing now……. Give me the old days at Bristol. Hell give me the old days of NASCAR.

    None of it is the same, and all of it is worse.

  2. SB Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 5:11 am

    I stoped going to Bristol 3 years after introducing the ‘chase’ neutered the track. The repave just put the lid on the coffin. Bristol was a bucket list item because it offered racing that no other track did. Now it’s like a mini cookie cutter. What’s so special about that? The grinding won’t change a thing.

  3. Bob Earnhardt Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 5:13 am

    I don’t think the changes will fill the stands. I have said before the problem with Bristol (and I love it) is logistics and cost. Not everyone wants to stay in the camping areas. When you turn to hotels or another place to stay they are limited and raise prices to very high levels. The economy has created the need to spend your money wisely and when the public is being overcharged they will stay away. The money would be better spent working with the local community to produce more favorable costs for the fans.

  4. Bill B Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Watched the truck race last night. Let’s just say I was underwhelmed and was not amazed. It doesn’t seem like anything has changed. Usually someone wrecks in the truck series as soon as they start the engine. 80 green flag laps from the start tells me nothing much has changed. Much hype about nothing.
    I doubt many people who were inclined to buy tickets bought them because of the track changes. If what you say it true, that they’ve been giving away tickets, then it will look better but it will be a lie (much like a lot of other things NASCAR tries to make us believe).

  5. Jesse Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 6:57 am

    I bet the speed trap on the way from Johnson City still makes money.

  6. Ken Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 6:59 am

    I live near the track and the race week excitement and buzz that used to be in the air is gone. I think the Chase is the main reason the interest has dropped. The drivers now consider Bristol as just another opportunity for points and they are afraid to race hard and risk a large loss of points. The repaving and reconfiguration was just the nail in the coffin for the “old” Bristol. I don’t know anyone near me that still goes to the race and we seldom talk about it like we did in the past. I bought raffle tickets for tickets to the race to help a local charity and I hope I’m not unlucky enough to win.

    People keep saying it is the economy. If that is true, wonder why people who live within an hour of the track won’t accept free tickets to the race? I was finally able to attend the night race a few years ago with free tickets because the race was on my bucket list. I have no desire to go back.

  7. Sue Rarick Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Everyone has made great valid points and I would just like to add one more small point. Nascar is no longer fun.

    I’ve been a race fan for 60 years and to this day New Egypt Speedway is my favorite track. I got here to Nashville to late to see the Fairgrounds in it’s glory days. But, the Nascar I loved had Junior Johnson and Buck Baker and Smokey Yunik. Guys that ‘I’ couldn’t beat up. I look at Nascar today and see a field of metro men in multi million dolloar motor homes. I see near spec cars. I see points racing like it’s the SCCA (and how big are the crowds attending their races). Isee Nascar turning into a PR machine with people that could care less what they are promoting. To them it’s just another ‘Product’.

    I have yet to watch a full race all year and even then maybe 4 partial races. Like I said, it’s just not fun to watch anymore.

  8. Tony Geinzer Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I find as a racing citizen, Bristol’s Breadbowl needs to market itself more appropriately as a Tourist Destination. As a fan, I almost want to go to Charlotte before Bristol and I prefer NASCAR found a way to delete the Chase and Sprint which has cheapened the series in a big way. At least I’d welcome Twin Races or something to Make the Night Race Week Less Artificalized.

  9. holdin5aces Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 8:28 am

    The bridge has been burned. But there are empty seats everywhere. Michigan had a lot of bare aluminum showing in the grandstand. I live close to Phoenix. They took out an entire section of grandstand and covered another with advertising to mask attendance drops. The COT is an issue, the economy, the level of competition, etc. Bristol won’t fill up again. The bell cannot be unrung.

  10. Jim Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 10:48 am

    It’s all the same reasons. Spec series, the chase for chumps, no brand identity, some or make that many are sick of King Brian, high cost of hotels, and food at track, the show itself and I say show because it hasn’t been RACING for a long time. Most millionaire drivers aren’t going to risk their lives any more than they have to and still get paid. The times they have changed. That’s why so many don’t even bother to watch on TV much any more, include me in that group.

  11. GinaV24 Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I was fortunate to get to Bristol BEFORE the chase, the spec car and the incessant points racing took over. I wouldn’t spend the money to go back now just because they reconfigured the track.

    I may watch it on TV, if I don’t have any other plans for Saturday. I used to plan my weekends around the race schedule, but that ship has sailed since the chase, the spec car and too many boring races have occurred. Plus the TV coverage is simply not worth watching. I have to use trackpass (when that works) and twitter to keep up.

    According to Brian France, everything is wonderful, but since he’s an absentee owner, he isn’t someone I’d pay any attention to.

  12. Jon Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    First of all, they didn’t put bristol back the way it was before. They did nothing, as evidenced by the truck race last night.

    Instead of restating what everyone has already said, I’ll go to another problem. Goodyear is also partially to blame. In that truck race toward the end, you would think someone running in the 5th-10th range would be able to pit and put on some fresh rubber for the last 20-30 laps and pass some trucks. Unfortunately, tires with 150 laps on them are only marginally worse then brand new tires so it takes all of the strategy out of it. Jimmie Johnson ran the first 120 laps of the Michigan race on the same left side tires…and he was still passing cars…are you kidding me?

  13. Dennis Says:
    August 23rd, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    When they reconfigured the track, they got rid of the drama. Attendance would improve if they dug the track up and put it back to the way it used to be.

  14. Tyler West Says:
    August 26th, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Nascar and Bruton Smith have screwed up everything!. Nascar has killed the sport by cheapening the season championship with the stupid ass chase!. Bruton Smith killed Bristol by be total dumb-ass! And giving it progressive banking. Everything with the sport now is completely fake! The damn broadcasters are nothing but professional ass kissers, I mean seriously Kenny Wallace and those guys make me want to throw up! If he’s not begging for a ride then he’s on tv kissing ass and trying to make everything sound perfectly fine with the sport. I never thought I would see the day where Nascar could mess up the sport of stock car racing, well I was dead wrong!