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SBD/April 26, 2012/Facilities
Bristol Motor Speedway Changes Begin With Expectation Of Finish In Time For August Races
Published April 26, 2012
AT WHAT COST? In Tennessee, Nate Hubbard writes, "Compared to 2007 -- when the progressive banking was initially installed during a complete resurfacing of the track -- the latest revamp is a minor adjustment." Final financial figures "were never released" for the '07 resurfacing and BMS officials yesterday "gave only 'eight figures' as the total for the past work." Bruton Smith had previously cited $1M "as the amount of money he planned to pour into the track" when he first announced he would be making changes in March. Caldwell said, "I don't know what the final number will end up being. It's kind of like a road project -- you don't know what you're going to run into. I think you can easily say it's going to be hundreds of thousands of dollars." Bruton Smith: "You can't please everyone, but we had more 'don't-touch-its, leave-it-alones' than we did otherwise. What we're doing now is modifying what we have. I really believe we're doing the right thing" (BRISTOL HERALD COURIER, 4/26).
IF I WANTED YOUR OPINION...: Bruton Smith said, "I have built more speedways than anybody in the world, and I have never consulted race drivers when I'm building a speedway because it'll drive you nuts. ... I guarantee you're going to have close to 43 opinions. We're modifying the track. Come August, we'll find out if we were right or wrong." USA TODAY's Nate Ryan notes Smith "had the approval of NASCAR officials" such as VP/Competition Robin Pemberton. NASCAR driver Jeff Burton said, "I find it interesting that some racetracks, when they make some changes, they never call drivers to say, 'OK, here's what we want to do; we know you might not like it, how do we accomplish it?' Guess what? We know more about it [than] some people making those decisions. We might not agree" (USA TODAY, 4/26).
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass wrote, "While track officials might have listened, they ultimately decided to make changes to the track even though 60 percent of the fans surveyed asked them not to change it." Bruton Smith said that he "has never had an issue where fans were so split." He also said that he "did not anticipate a change in ticket prices for next year and even plans on possibly adding 7,000 seats to the 158,000-seat track" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/25). ESPN.com's David Newton wrote Bruton Smith "better be right." If not, NASCAR fans "may create an even bigger public relations nightmare" for him. What Smith is doing "is a far cry from what he seemed to be suggesting after the March 18 race, which was tearing up the progressive banking and building Bristol back to the way it was when it was the toughest ticket in NASCAR." Newton noted it is "an expensive risk if it doesn't work out," but "at least Smith is trying to change things." Besides grinding Bristol, he also "will personally ask Goodyear to bring a softer tire" for the August races. Newton: "To Smith's credit, he's trying to do something about entertaining the fans at Bristol." Smith "may be taking a risk by not returning the track to the way it was, but he didn't become one of the richest people in NASCAR by playing it safe" (ESPN.com, 4/25).