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SBD/May 17, 2013/People and Pop CulturePrint All
SMI Chair & CEO BRUTON SMITH as Charlotte Motor Speedway Founder “remains a primary force behind Speedway Motorsports,” and is a finalist for the ’14 NASCAR HOF class to be “voted upon and announced Wednesday,” according to Scott Fowler of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Smith this week in a 30-minute phone conversation discussed various topics, including ticket sales and the NASCAR HOF's induction process. Below is an excerpt of the Q&A:
Q: The NASCAR Hall of Fame will vote in its fifth class on Wednesday. This is the first time you have made it onto the list of finalists. What do you think your chances are?
Smith: I don’t have the time to even worry with it. If I’m voted in, I am. If not, I’m not. I’m not really that concerned. I do wish that voting panel was very, very independent. That’s where it should have started out. Very independent, with no people or entities that control the voting. … They should have found people who are not connected with anybody but who want to do the right thing. I just hope people vote their conscience.
Q: How are ticket sales for the all-star race Saturday night and the Coca-Cola 600 on May 26 at the speedway?
Smith: I wish I could tell you it’s sold out, but it’s not. We are working diligently to try and accomplish that. Assuming that you can guarantee us great weather, we’ll have a huge walkup for the all-star race.
Q: Why do you think NASCAR ticket sales at many places around the country seem to have plateaued?
Smith: We do not have a great economy. And the other thing is that last year in particular, I thought the quality of the racing had deteriorated. We’re having to live that down now. We’re also having to be more creative and make it a greater experience for the fans.
Q: What’s a race day like for you now?
Smith: I might spend a couple of hours on a golf cart, shaking a lot of hands and seeing people I might not see too often. At race time, I’m going to be somewhere in the stands or in a suite, entertaining maybe 70-80 guests and friends. I am very fortunate. I meet more VIPs at one event than most people meet in a lifetime (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/17).
PHILIPPE DUBE enjoys a change of scenery, as evidenced by he and his family living at times in Japan, France and San Diego. The Fontenay-Le-Comte, France, native now finds himself for the past three years in Montreal as Reebok-CCM Hockey President & CEO. But he and his wife this weekend will travel to New York for a little getaway for the Canadian Victoria Day holiday.
GOTHAM CITY GREATS: We’re going to be in New York this weekend. It’s a long weekend, it’s been a while since I’ve been in New York, so I’m going to spend the weekend with my wife doing some sightseeing, visit some museums and tour the city. I have a business-related meeting on Friday in New York. We booked a hotel just next to the United Nations. My wife has selected a few good restaurants to go to and usually I don’t really manage that. I trust my wife, and usually whatever she chooses is the right choice. Especially for restaurants, but I could (have a) say for everything else. My wife is still hesitating on some plays; Mamma Mia is something that she is talking about. She would rather see Mamma Mia than Lion King. I’m not supposed to talk about shopping because when crossing the border back to Canada, you’re not supposed to (laughs). Shopping is something that my wife and I, we enjoy.
IF IT AIN’T BROKE: Breakfast is the most important meal to us. We can go crazy with any kind of food for lunch and dinner, but breakfast for some reason we are extremely, extremely traditional. So it’s toasted bread with butter and jam, and coffee or tea and that’s it. I can’t eat sausages or omelets and neither (can) my wife. In the morning I can’t stand the greasy food smell. A bowl a fruit is good, too.
NOSE IN A BOOK: I usually read either history books or some novels. I try to stay away from the business-related books over the weekend because usually I find them extremely boring. For me a book is like a movie, it’s a way to escape from the crazy, day-to-day life. It’s good for my brain to think of something else once in a while. I read all the JOHN GRISHAM books and MICHAEL CRICHTON. I was really, really sad when he passed away a few years ago because I read all his books and really, really liked it.
THE HIGH LIFE: Spring and summer are really nice in Montreal. The city is a very nice city to live, let’s say at this time of my life. We are in Montreal and our daughter is in France and our son is in Barcelona. Living in Montreal as a couple without the constraints of young kids, it’s absolutely fantastic. So much social events. Culturally it’s really, really great. My wife is volunteering at the orchestra in Montreal, so we (have) some opportunities to go quite often.
LINKED UP: Usually on a weekend at home I golf with my wife, which I do on a regular basis with some friends. The course we like reminds me of the south of France. It’s called San-Raphael, on a small island called Île Bizard, so Bizarre Island. It’s next to the main island of Montreal. We just play for fun. And to tell you the truth, very often we play 14 and not 18. That very often is quite enough for us. And we always play in the afternoon because my wife doesn’t want to play early in the morning and neither do I also on the weekends.
FIFTY SHADES OF BLUE: When you go in my drawer, you see about five feet of light-blue shirts. I’m not very fancy in changing colors besides, you know, in light blue and black and grey and white. I’m sorry. I’m not very originally with the colors I wear usually, but I don’t think it would surprise anybody who knows me. They see me every day and they see that the colors are not changing too much. I’m sorry, maybe I’m a bit boring for that but I like to feel good in my clothes. Each time I usually try something fancy because my wife said, “Ah, you look good with that.” Usually the shirt, the pants or the jacket stays in the drawer. I like to feel good. Usually I have a bad day when I leave home and I don’t feel good in my clothes. ... As soon as I arrive at home I remove it and put jogging pants and a T-shirt and whew.
The AP's John Wawrow noted the Bills on Thursday officially promoted Assistant GM DOUG WHALEY to GM, "making the team's near top-to-bottom offseason overhaul complete." The 40-year-old Whaley has "spent the past three years being groomed for the job," and he now will be "responsible for the roster and also formulating the Bills' draft strategy." Bills Senior VP/Football Administration JIM OVERDORF will "continue in his role as the team's chief negotiator and salary-cap manager, who answers directly" to Bills President & CEO RUSS BRANDON (AP, 5/16). Brandon said of Whaley, "He deserves this opportunity. Doug has every quality you look for in a leader. He has great work ethic. ... He is one of the most humble guys I have ever met, and everything is about us." The Bills also named JIM MONOS Player Personnel Dir and KELVIN FISHER College Scouting Dir (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/17).
EXECS: The Bears promoted Southeast Area Scout MARK SADOWSKI to Senior National Scout. Sadowski has been with the franchise since '05 (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 5/16)....The Chiefs named WILL LEWIS Pro Scouting Dir and MARVIN ALLEN College Scouting Dir. The team also named RANDY BALL Pro Scouting Assistant and TREY KOZIOL Area Scout. The club promoted Pro Personnel Scout MIKE BORGONZI to Pro Scouting Assistant Dir, Regional Scout DOM GREEN to College Scouting Assistant Dir, BRETT VEACH to Pro and College Personnel Analyst and College Scouting Administrator RYAN POLES to College Coordinator (Chiefs)....PBR promoted Event Marketing Senior Dir ELLEN NEWBERG to Event Marketing VP (PBR).
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In Charlotte, Jim Utter reports NASCAR team owner and former Redskins coach JOE GIBBS has "lived as an insulin-dependent, Type II diabetic" since '91. Gibbs by sharing his story "hopes to educate people with diabetes, and those who don’t have it." He "wants everyone to know that the lifestyle-changing diagnosis doesn’t have to be a prescription for limitations." Gibbs oversees a NASCAR operation with "upwards of 450 employees, works with his ministry and enjoys time with his eight grandchildren." And he does so with "no outward signs of his illness" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/17).
STILL IN THE DOG HOUSE: Browns Owner and Pilot Flying J CEO JIMMY HASLAM III told trucking execs Thursday that he "estimates that 250 trucking firms may be owed money in the wake of an FBI investigation into allegations of a rebate skimming scam." Haslam said that he "personally was not aware of the scam prior to the April 15 raid on his company headquarters in Knoxville by FBI and IRS agents." Haslam: "I take responsibility for what happens at PFJ as the guy at the top of the shop, but I was absolutely not aware of any of this" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/17). Haslam: "I want to look everyone in the eye and say we'll do everything we can to make things right." Haslam speaking Thursday at a truckers conference in Indianapolis "answered questions screened by his lawyers" (CLEVELAND.com, 5/16).
FIGHT ON: USC AD PAT HADEN from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012 earned about $2.2M "in total compensation." Haden earned a base salary of $1,203,888, an additional $800,000 in bonuses and incentives, $204,585 in other reportable income, $24,500 in retirement and other deferred compensation and $14,705 in nontaxable benefits (L.A. TIMES, 5/17). A Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER editorial states while large salaries for college coaches may be OK for them, it is "not OK for the colleges and universities who keep throwing millions of dollars at their coaches even as their professors are pinched and their students sink deeper into student loan debt." The "gulf grows between professors’ and coaches’ pay and the contrast becomes ever starker between millionaire coaches and their unpaid players" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 5/17).
CHARITY STRIPE: Broncos QB PEYTON MANNING's PeyBack Foundation is "donating $581,000 that will be distributed to more than 90 youth-based community organizations" in Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana in '13 (DENVERPOST.com, 5/16)....WWE said that it is "making a gift" of $1.2M over three years for research into treatment for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (USA TODAY, 5/17)....ESPN analyst and former NFLer JASON TAYLOR has been selected to serve on the NFL Foundation's BOD and will "direct the NFL's charitable ventures." The post was formed for retired Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winners (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 5/17)....The Phillies on Thursday "raised thousands of dollars to support the fight against ALS" during the 24th annual Phillies Phestival at Citizens Bank Park (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/17).
NAMES: Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Chair and former Blue Jays President & CEO PAUL GODFREY "was let go" on Thursday (TORONTO STAR, 5/17)....Warriors radio play-by-play announcer TIM ROYE has been inducted into the Utica College Pioneer Athletic HOF (Warriors)....Texas A&M QB JOHNNY MANZIEL attended Thursday’s Nationals-Padres game (WASHINGTON POST, 5/17)….Redskins QB ROBERT GRIFFIN III will serve as an honorary grand marshal for the National Memorial Day parade in DC (WASHINGTONPOST.com. 5/16).