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Bruton Smith holds court at Atlanta Motor Speedway...and how he loves to raise cain


Bruton Smith loves a crowd (Photo: Harold Hinson for Lowes Motor Speedway)


   By Mike Mulhern

  Bruton Smith, the second most powerful man in NASCAR, says he'd like to step up the ladder and buy the sport's long-time sanctioning body, if it were for sale.
   And Smith says NASCAR executives should move the Sprint Cup tour's season finale from Homestead, Fla., to a bigger market, suggesting his own Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
   Smith, who owns and promotes NASCAR tracks in Charlotte, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Atlanta, Bristol, Tn., Loudon, N.H., and Fort Worth, Tx., spent more than an hour Friday afternoon discussing his ideas for bettering the sport.
   And he offered criticism of things he feels need to be changed. For one, he says NASCAR execs should trim their staff. For another, he says NASCAR should put on more exciting racing.
   Buying NASCAR?
   "Yes, I'd like to buy it, yes indeed. Is it for sale?" Smith says.
   There has been speculation for several years that Disney might want to buy NASCAR.
   But Smith dismisses that: "No, Disney isn't going to buy NASCAR. That would be like a dog chasing a bus? If he catches it, what's he going to do with it?"
   So what would Smith do if he owned NASCAR?
  "A lot," he says. "I'd go to work. I wouldn't spend as much time on the street as I do now.
  "The first thing I'd do? I can't tell you that, because that would hurt a lot of people's feelings.
  "But we would add a lot of drama.
   "My fantastic neighbor, Jimmie Johnson – I said a few weeks ago that I'd like to see Jimmie get out of a race car and slap someone. He could slap me.  We just need some more excitement in this sport. We need more action, we need some drama. We need to let these fans know these drivers have opinions.
   "Maybe we should feed these drivers gunpowder. It makes a man meaner. You could sprinkle some on their cereal.
   "Las Vegas did something for the sport that the sport needed – number one, the huge crowd for the race Saturday. We swiped more than 80,000 tickets Saturday….that's amazing. All speedways can't say that. All my speedways can't say that.
   "And we just knocked it out of the park Sunday."
   So maybe Smith should buy California Speedway and take it over?
  "So I would move the two events….and then what would I do with the property?" Smith says.
  Smith says the site of the California track simply isn't a good one. "That was Roger Penske's decision to buy it there….but look at history: racing has never done in Southern California what we would like for it to do. That's not the place for stock car racing…."
   But then Smith has never been the man running a NASCAR track in LA.
   "Well, you'd have to go out there and wave the magic wand…and you don't want to wave your magic wand too much," Smith said.
   But Smith does have a lot of businesses in California, and he's got that NASCAR road course up near San Francisco.
   Northern California, Smith insists, is different, with a different draw, than Southern California.
   "If we had ways of getting people in and out of Sonoma there's no telling how many people we could put in there," Smith said, with a pointed reference to the poor highway system around the track, particularly from the Vallejo-Oakland-Sacramento side.
   To improve that highway system Smith said would require some help from President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers.
   "There is such difficulty in building out there….." Smith said.
   Then Smith made pointed reference to his Republican side, when asked about inviting the President to one of his races: "What? I misunderstood your question….I don't know how busy we'll  be this next four years, but we've got a lot of people on the list, and I don't know that he is on the list."
   So much for being politically correct.
   Smith preferred to talk about Las Vegas, his track, and his hopes for a second Cup tour there…and his hopes for NASCAR to move the annual end-of-the-season awards banquet from New York City to Las Vegas (a move that NASCAR has pointedly rejected in the past).
   Smith insists that the Las Vegas banquet plan "is not a dead horse," and he made that statement sharply.
   Another point Smith wanted to make – that he wanted to have the final race of the season moved from Homestead to anywhere else.
  "If NASCAR were in a position to do the right thing for the sport – and I don't think they're in the right position to do that, because some of the things they do are self-serving….
  "Why would you have the final race of the season in some forsaken place that is just north of Cuba? Why not have it at a place with seats and hotels and parking?
  "I'm going to bring that up with (NASCAR CEO) Brian France.
  "We'd be thrilled to have the final race of the season in Las Vegas.
   "That race does not belong in Homingstead (sic).
   "That's not in Miami.
   "And they only draw 50,000. That's not doing anything for the sport.
   "Wouldn't you rather have that race somewhere with 175,000?"
   Maybe Smith should make a move to buy the International Speedway Corp.?



Bruton, drivers don't need to

Bruton, drivers don't need to slap one another. The sport needs LEAD CHANGES. What are you doing to get these racers to fight harder on the racetrack? I haven't seen where you've done anything, Bruton.

Vegas sold out - because Bruton's companies bulk-buy tickets. That place is a transient demographic, no better than Fontana as a racing demographic.

Well BSmith demonstrated

Well BSmith demonstrated again that his concern is BSmith 1st and last and everyone else later - just like with his suggestion to black-out races if they don't sell out. Apparently he pays no attention to the weather in late November or the attendance at Atlanta. All he cares about is what is good for him. There should be a lot of people in the Piedmont Triad that don't appreciate his support for Las Vegas which keeps trying to take the Furniture Market from High Point.

That having been said, the one thing he did say that made a lot of sense was the importance of the US auto industry in the event of war - which should have gotten a whole lot more play in the media that the rest of what he said.

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