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Time to see if Tony’s helmet toss and Danica’s finger point will actually sell some seats

By admin | March 14, 2013

 Tony Stewart fired his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car last year in Bristol.

By Richard Allen

In the time between the two Sprint Cup races held last year at the Bristol Motor Speedway, Speedway Motorsports, Inc.(owners of the track) carried out a highly publicized “restoration” of the half-mile facility that would return it to its previous status as a rough and tumble track.

Attendance at the upper east Tennessee speedway had declined noticeably since a previous resurfacing and reconfiguration back in 2007. In an effort to fill more of the ‘Colisseum’ seating that surrounds the concrete bull ring, SMI Chairman O. Bruton Smith made a decision to grind down the upper groove to cause drivers to fight harder for the low lane, and thus, come in contact with each other more often. You know, create more “Racing’ The Way It Oughta Be!”

As it turns out, the racing was not vastly different than it had been since 2007 during some stretches of the race, but there were some noteworthy exceptions in which it did appear as if the ‘old’ Bristol had returned. An incident involving Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart as they fought for the lead on lap 334 and a dust up between Danica Patrick and Regan Smith on lap 436 provided some highlight material for the track to use in its advertising campaign to sell tickets for this weekend’s Food City 500.

After Stewart and Kenseth came together on the front stretch, Stewart’s car was damaged badly enough that he was unable to drive it back to the pit area. However, Kenseth did continue on in his machine and was able to find his way onto pit road for repairs. As Kenseth headed back to the track, the waiting Stewart flung his helmet in the direction of the oncoming car and scored a direct hit right on the nose of the #17 Ford.

The crowd erupted and Stewart urged them on further by waving his hands around in the air upon hearing their reaction.

That incident has become the centerpiece of the speedway’s advertising campaign since that race ended. The Performance Racing Network’s call has been played as part of a huge radio campaign here in the Knoxville area and no doubt throughout many other locations as well. Also, television ads have shown the now famous helmet toss as a reminder of what fans might expect from racing on the high-banked track.

Another moment in the race that has provided plenty of fodder to be used as a means of promotion was the crash involving Smith and Patrick. In much the same way as the previously described get-together, one car drove away while the other remained parked on the track.

As Smith circulated back by the accident scene, Patrick climbed the banking toward his car. The crowd anxiously waited to see what would take place. Rather than a helmet hurl, Patrick decided to go with a disapproving finger point in the direction of her adversary. Again, those in attendance let their approval be known with shouts and cheers.

But now, the real test comes. Were those two flashbacks to the ‘Days of Bristol Past’ enough to sell more tickets than were sold for last year’s early season race? Or, will vast numbers of empty seats continue to be the norm for this March date?

According the the track’s website, there are seats available in more than half the sections of grandstands that line the speedway.

Topics: Articles |

6 Responses to “Time to see if Tony’s helmet toss and Danica’s finger point will actually sell some seats”

  1. Russ Says:
    March 14th, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    With the new still not off the reconfiguration, plus the first attempt at a short track by the Gen-6 there ought to be a good crowd. I would think if they equal last year they should be happy.
    The fact that they aren’t promoting the racing as much as the “gladiatorial” part probably doesnt deserve comment.

  2. midasmicah Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Rich, if you want to see even less butts in the stands, just let JJ and his fellow Hendricks “vanilla heads” dominate a few more races. nascar had a driver who showed some personality win the championship last year and it was refreshing. And Bristol is notorious for jacking up their prices for food and lodging. Couple that with the ordinary Joe’s lack of “disposible cash” and that’s not a good recipe for success. I love Bristol, but I’ll be watching it at home on TV.

  3. Jack Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 11:41 am

    So Danica points her finger. Anyone who watched her during her “career” in IndyCar knows that she pointed at someone every time she screwed up. It was never her fault, always somebody else. I can’t imagine why anyone finds this interesting.

  4. GinaV24 Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    the weather doesn’t sound like it will be very nice so that may factor into it. I know that IMO I am not spending $ to go to a race where the weather is going to be crap.

    I agree with midas. I’m bore of JJ already and it’s only the 4th race of the season. It’s St. Patrick’s day and I have plans with friends. I might watch some of the race before I head out, but I won’t waste my entire afternoon listening to DW, Larry et al, tell me how great the racing is and/or how wonderful (insert driver’s name here) is doing.

    Jack, LOL, thank you for saying that. My favorite time was when she got into it with Milka on pit road and got pushback. She picked a fight with another female - someone who COULD hit her back.

  5. Tony Geinzer Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    John Madden said it best Sports and Entertainment don’t mix. I also feel that as a fan, Sports and Entertainment’s Merger has been a bad joke at best, and truthfully, wouldn’t 34 or 36 Cars served us right, Rich?

  6. Tyler West Says:
    March 16th, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    What would sell tickets is someone swerving at that dumb b****! I’m so sick of hearing about how she is this and that. It’s a damn joke! She sucks! Daytona was shameful, nobody could pass and never even tried. All day it was riding and winning in the pits. So, how in the hell does that make her some type of great racer! It was a complete shame. In Indy cars it was the same damn thing. Swerve at her, that would really get some atention. Can’t stand her and all the garbage that she brings.