Bruton Smith Says He Did Not Approve Changes Made To Bristol Speedway In '07
Speedway Motorsports Inc. Chair & CEO Bruton Smith said that he "never gave approval for Bristol Motor Speedway to be redesigned with progressive banking" as was done in '07, according to David Newton of ESPN.com. Smith said Thursday that the decision to "add progressive banking was made by an employee that still works for him." He added that a "final decision on whether to return the track to its original design ... will be made over the next few days after he collects all the data from engineers, fans and drivers." Smith: "It was one of my engineers. He made the decision without mentioning it to me. In my opinion, that is where we went wrong." Smith added, "The gentleman is a good man. He still works for me. We didn't shoot him or anything like that." He continued, "We listen to the fans because they are the ones that pay the tab. ... For years this speedway was voted No. 1. We respect the fans' opinions. It has a great bearing on what we want to do." BMS Exec VP & GM Jerry Caldwell "applauded Smith for polling fans." Caldwell said, "He's one of the most progressive thinkers in all of sports and somebody who is passionate about giving the race fans what they want. As these numbers are starting to show, we're hearing loud and clear from the race fans what they want to see. You've got to listen to the race fans" (ESPN.com, 3/22). ESPN’s David Newton said Smith talked to “quite a few” drivers and “they have almost begged him not to make any changes, but the fans have predominantly...have said they prefer the old Bristol.” ("NASCAR Now", ESPN2, 3/22).