Bruton Smith Says Strong Chance He'll Move Fall Cup Race From Charlotte To Vegas
SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith said that there is "a seventy percent chance he’ll move Charlotte’s fall (Sprint) Cup race to the track he owns in Las Vegas,” according to Paul Cameron of WBTV-CBS. Smith said moving the Bank of America 500 from Charlotte Motor Speedway is “certainly being considered.” He added, "Las Vegas is a great place -- it’s the entertainment capital of the world -- and they want another event.” Smith did not indicate how soon a move would take place, though he said it has been in discussions for “at least a year.” NASCAR execs must sign off on moving any race from its current location, but Smith said, “I know they would approve this.” Cameron reported Smith denied he was “fishing to put pressure on Cabarrus County (N.C.) to get the sixty million he feels he was promised for road improvements” around CMS. Smith: “We don’t like to hurt Charlotte in any way, shape or form. And we might have something smaller in its place even though we moved the Cup (race) out there.” He did not specify what that replacement event might be (WBTV-CBS, 5/20). NASCAR said that it has “received no formal request from SMI to move one of its races to another one of its tracks.” NASCAR Senior VP/Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell said, “Tracks have the ability to request realignment. We review and always decide based on the best interest of the entire sport of NASCAR. We’re beginning the 2014 process now, and have not had any formal requests to realign” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/21). In Las Vegas, Mark Anderson writes Smith “could face stiff opposition from NASCAR.” The Charlotte area is “home to the elite racing teams, and taking a Chase race out of there might not sit well with the organization” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/21).
RAISING FLAGS: ESPN.com’s David Newton noted Smith has “lobbied for a second Vegas race date for several years with no success.” Smith also has “lobbied to move the season finale from Homestead-Miami Speedway to Vegas, where the season-ending banquet has been held since 2009.” The Wheeler Co. Chair & former SMI President & CEO Humpy Wheeler “believes Smith's threat to move is connected to his ongoing legal fight with Cabarrus County.” Smith filed a lawsuit against the city of Concord in '09 "seeking millions worth of infrastructure improvements near and around the track.” He claims that county officials “breached a contract by not following through.” In April, Smith “tried to resurrect that lawsuit, claiming officials reneged" on an offer of $80M (ESPN.com, 5/20).