SBD/May 17, 2013/People and Pop Culture

SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith Weighs In On HOF Voting, Ticket Sales

Smith thinks the economy and poor racing have contributed to low attendance
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).
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