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Bruton Smith and other leaders of the sport need to talk less and do more

By admin | May 21, 2013

Bruton Smith up to his old tricks?

By Richard Allen

Bruton Smith is up to his old tricks. Once again, he is threatening to move a race away from its long standing location to another track. Most likely, this is yet another attempt by the chairman of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. to gain attention and have a zoning law changed or some sort of tax break or subsidy sent his way.

On Monday, Smith said that there is a 70% chance that the fall race held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway will be moved to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. SMI owns both of those tracks but such a move would require the permission of NASCAR.

We’ve seen this performance more times than most Americans have watched ‘Forrest Gump’.  In 2012, there was an attempt to get the state of Tennessee to provide funding for a fix of the track surface at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Heck, one time Smith even threatened to move the entire Charlotte Motor Speedway facility to Rock Hill, SC if the city of Concord, NC would not allow him to build the then proposed zMax Dragway.

Trouble is, he seems to often get his way. But there may finally come a time when his gamesmanship doesn’t work. But the truth, he shouldn’t need it at all.

My advice to Bruton Smith and other leaders in NASCAR is to just shut up and fix the sport if they want better revenues. The seats are not empty at race tracks and television ratings down because of all star formats, lack of race dates in Las Vegas or the relative lack of success of “stars” such as Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or Danica Patrick.

Seats are empty because the races are not intriguing enough to cause people to plunk down the money and dedicate the time to come and see them. But as usual, instead of trying to create better racing on the track, NASCAR and the networks have their water carriers out on social media and television shows distracting everyone with discussions of better formats for a gimmick race rather than doing something substantive.

If Bruton Smith and NASCAR want fans to fill those grandstands seats again, they need to think more of fans and less about TV networks and prima donna star drivers who fly in on private jets and stay in million-dollar motor coaches.

To do that, the first thing that needs to happen is the racing on the track needs to get better. This is something that has been addressed on this website many times. But just to briefly re-cap, there needs to be a loosening of the rules that restrict teams so much that everyone is driving virtually identical cars that run the same speed and rarely pass each other.

Also, the points accumulating mentality has to go. Drivers and teams spend too much time worrying about how many points they might lose if they take a risk that fails rather than the win they might gain if that risk pays off.

But along with those on-track adjustments, there must be a change in the arrogant mindset of track owners. In a time of economic crisis such as we have experienced over the past few years, ticket prices have remained high at many tracks for the seats that are worth having.

Sure, there are discounts offered on lousy seats that are so low fans can’t see very much. Those “family packs” are offered so that the seats closest to the track are filled to give the appearance of a full house when viewed on television during the tight shots the networks use.

If Bruton Smith wants to move a race or if the most visible media  members want to discuss the Sprint All Star Race format, then go ahead. But in the end, neither of those things will solve the problem.

If the leaders of the sport want better revenues, they need to stop talking and start addressing real issues. But fans, don’t hold your breath on that.

Topics: Articles |

13 Responses to “Bruton Smith and other leaders of the sport need to talk less and do more”

  1. Will Rabb Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Three suggestions

    Softer tires or option tires like Indy Car and F1 have

    more $$$ and points to win to were it is worth the risk to race hard

    varrie formats and shorter races that encourage drivers to race rather than ride until the last 50 laps

  2. Tony Geinzer Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    I believe,Rich, why not offer more “Home” Races? I don’t mean from the couch, but, why not offer Hickory, Bowman Gray, Orange County, Rockingham, Greenville Pickens, Myrtle Beach, and Gresham. Too, with you being an East Tennessee Native, I want to see the Irwin Tools Night Race Week be brought up as the last race Pre-Brickyard 400 and a Good Sponsor and Good Sponsor Name would bring up 70,000 More People Regionally to East Tennessee. From Lexington,Roanoke, Atlanta, Knoxville, Winston Salem and Greenville Pickens to name a few. That few would help resellout Bristol Again and I want the Atlanta Race be before the Coke Zero 400 and it would help demolish the Gilligan Concrete.

  3. Russ Says:
    May 21st, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Rich, everything you say is true and I wholeheartedly support it. However,

    While Bruton and others, BZF perhaps, are only worried about the short term - just heard a spokesperson for a conservative think tank discussing the “millionals” (spelling) one of the points was how they are turning away from the automobile. What does that portend for the future of motorsport?

  4. Sabonis Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 12:39 am

    This is way too relevant. Everyone on top talks about how much better the sport is getting, when from the stands not much seems to have changed. The Gen6 was supposed to be a HUGE step forward but unfortunatley hasn’t delivered upon those expectations. Goodyear has failed, and the track selection/schedule is an absolute joke. Don’t let Bruton see or else he may work to see your website

  5. zhills fan Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Smith is nothing more than a snake oil salesman!

  6. Tyler West Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 6:10 am

    Bruton Smith is a piece of S#*T! He is the biggest deuche bag on earth. His way of thinking has gotten the sport in the problems their in right now. He and Nascar are so out of touch with reality. I don’t feel they really care about the sport, they just want money, eventhough we are sufering through a very tough economy. The guy F-ED up Bristol!! That should tell you what kind of genius he is.

  7. Bill B Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 6:16 am

    Your preaching to the choir Rich.
    I used to be quick to jump into conversations like this and offer suggestions as to what would make things better. Recently, I’ve backed away from that. There are so many things wrong/broken that I don’t even know where to start.

  8. GinaV24 Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Great article, Rich. It’s a shame that the people who should read it - NASCAR’s management and the track owners, maybe even some of the owners of the teams AND the drivers - won’t.

    Bruton will continue to demand his way or the highway, it’s what he does and he’s been successful at getting his own way most of the time. Heck, ISC got a 2nd race at Kansas because they put a casino there. Whoopee!

    The fans get thrown little sops to try and distract them but I think that is working less and less. If it was successful, people would be at the track and watching on TV and they aren’t.

    I’d like to see it fixed because I miss the “fun” that following NASCAR used to produce, but I’m not expecting a thing out of the current managment, track owners or drivers.

  9. Robert Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Well, look at the bright side…..Bruton Smith ain’t no spring chicken! He’ll be in a nursing home before long or have a flock of nurses attending him in his castle and we can all gripe about his replacement!

  10. Vince Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Good article Rich and you hit the nail on the head. I’m sick and tired of Smith’s antics as well as BZF’s bazarro world he calls reality.

    I’ve been going to NASCAR races since 1964 starting at Bowman Gray, Charlotte and North Wilksboro. NASCAR racing today is just plain boring.

    This is the first year since they started broadcasting races, that I haven’t watched a single race. I listen to them on MRN or PRN if I feel like it, but the networks show more commercials than they do racing.

    And I’m damn sick and tired of the Waltrip brothers.

    You want to go to a good show? Go to your local track or better yet go watch the World of Outlaw winged sprints if they come to your area. Now that’s a show!

  11. John Cooke Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 11:28 am

    You pretty much hit the nail on the head Rich! But, I think the only time you will see any changes from Nascar, is when the TV money dries up, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. I still believe the lack of interest comes from the “Chase” and the constant talk of it. I go to see a race, not see who gets enough points to get in the Chase.

  12. Scott Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Great article and great commentors. Smith first drew my ire when he bought and closed North Wilkesboro. A couple of years ago when I stupidly attended the farce that was the Inagural Kentucky race, I vowed that I would never give Bruton Smith(…no adjetives required beyone the elloquence of the previous commenters) another dollar of my hard earned money.

    There are several great ideas here: End the Chase and focus on ‘the Race’; take the camera/microphone away from the Waltrip brothers who shamelessly pimp their sponsors and relentlessly kiss the arses of the folks making the bad decisions; go back to the smaller markets like IRP and North Wilkesboro;

    Finally, let’s have some more ‘out of the box’ thinking, the idea of the trucks racing on the dirt at Eldora is brilliant.

    If there’s any good news about the way NASCAR has changed in the last couple of decades is that they have driven me back to my local tracks where there is still racers and racing.

  13. JC Says:
    May 22nd, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Right on Rich! The problem is the product. In addition to softer tires, less downforce, easing of rules, etc., Nascar needs to cut the distance on every single race to where it fits in a 3 hr time window. Nobody has the patience, whether it be live or watching on TV to devote 4 - 5 hrs on a sporting event. The old school will cry for a while but after a year nobody will complain because the racing will be better.