NASCAR needs to put the bull back in Bristol bull-ring

In typically grand and very public fashion, Bruton Smith has announced plans to perform a spectacular feat of public relations showmanship even the great P.T. Barnum would have been proud of. He is going to put toothpaste back into the tube.

Following fan complaints about the quality of racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Speedway Motorsports Inc. president recently issued a press release stating his plans to do make changes to the track, which he owns. He left out one important piece of information; namely, what those changes might consist of.

“The race fans have spoken; we had input that included a wide range of opinions,” he said. “But the majority we heard from said they wanted to see changes made.

“The question we wanted to answer as quickly as possible was, ‘Is something going to be done?’ The answer to that is ‘Yes.’ We will have the details in two weeks as to what that something is.”

In other words, Smith issued a press release announcing that in two weeks, he will issue another press release. In the circus world, this basically is the job description of a guy known as the bally, who typically would stand on a platform outside the show to deliver a spiel in hopes of attracting a crowd, hence the word “ballyhoo.”

In the case of Bristol, the crowd Smith is hoping to attract is his own. According to most reports, during the race on March 18, the 160,000-seat venue was approximately one-third empty. At a track long considered the toughest ticket in NASCAR, and voted the most popular racing facility in the country more than a half-dozen times, over than 50,000 fans simply decided to stay home.

In this age of recession and rising fuel prices, a few empty seats are not unusual; we have seen decreases in attendance at most tracks over the course of past few years, but for some reason, nothing seemed to shock us as much as the view of all those empty seats at Bristol. Bristol is so spectacular in the racing world that, according to Smith, its late-summer night race has actually been voted “one of the 10 things you need to see before you die.”

The question is, what happened? The answer is that Smith messed with success.

Circus is a word with a long and interesting history. Derived from the Latin, it means “ring” or “circle,” and became famous as a place where the ancient Romans would gather to watch games, battles and yes, races. Modern circuses move from town to town, offering an exotic experience patrons may have the opportunity to experience only once a year, showing them feats of skill and derring-do they will likely never forget. Sound familiar?

Bristol Motor Speedway is a one-ring venue, but it has never failed to amaze and delight. The narrow configuration and high banking of the half-mile Tennessee track basically ensured there simply wasn’t room for everyone to get where they wanted to go, so the time-honored solution of simply knocking everyone else out of your way became the order of the day. Bristol was the place where things flew, whether they were sparks or tempers, helmets or fists. It was a big show, to be sure.

But even racetracks need some maintenance from time to time, so when Bristol was repaved in 2007, variable banking was added to the corners. This opened up the track for two and even three-wide racing, but the absence of beating and banging during events opened up the grandstands, with a lot of empty seats.

Human seem to have the urge to improve things. We simply can’t leave well enough alone. But one of the quickest ways to break something is to fix it when it isn’t broken. With a racetrack, small changes make a very big difference, and they’re not always for the best. You can’t go home again, and Bristol can probably never turn back time and exactly duplicate its former glory.

It can, however, get pretty close. And by the time August rolls around, the melodious tones of its determined ringmaster will be heard by race fans near and far: “Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, come one, come all … and come back.”

NASCAR columnist Cathy Elliott is also the author of the book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: NASCAR.” Visit her online at www.mybrainonnascar.com.

Comments

comments

Drew turns softball skills into memorable summer

Drew turns softball skills into memorable summerOlivia Drew was crying, and her mother, Brittany Drew, was [more]

Pelicans limited to one hit as offensive woes continue

Pelicans limited to one hit as offensive woes continueAlex Lange fired six excellent innings Thursday, but the Myrtle [more]

Mutiny gives Strand fans small taste of World Cup

Mutiny gives Strand fans small taste of World CupAmerican soccer fans don't have a rooting interest in this [more]

All-County Track & Field: Second shots strike silver

All-County Track & Field: Second shots strike silverThe frontrunners in this year's My Horry News All-County Girls [more]

Pelicans open second half with eye on playoff streak

Pelicans open second half with eye on playoff streakThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans begin the second half of the [more]

Pelicans help propel South to victory in All-Star Game

Pelicans help propel South to victory in All-Star GameA pair of Myrtle Beach Pelicans played key roles in [more]

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-South

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-SouthA pair of former teammates and rivals joined forces for [more]

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finale

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finaleThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans dropped their final game of the [more]

CCU's Biermann, Lancaster make All-American squad

CCU's Biermann, Lancaster make All-American squadCoastal Carolina shortstop Seth Lancaster and designated hitter Zach Biermann [more]

Ibarrondo comes to rescue to rally first-place Mutiny

Ibarrondo comes to rescue to rally first-place Mutiny The Myrtle Beach Mutiny needed a wake-up call late Saturday [more]

Pelicans split twinbill with Mudcats, play finale today

Pelicans split twinbill with Mudcats, play finale todayAfter the Myrtle Beach Pelicans fell 2-1 to the Carolina [more]

Pelicans lose fifth straight, play doubleheader today

Pelicans lose fifth straight, play doubleheader todayVictor Diaz's seven strong innings for the Carolina Mudcats were [more]

All-County Boys Tennis: Johnson, MB duo top list

All-County Boys Tennis: Johnson, MB duo top listThe future looks bright for the sport of high school [more]

Hess carves his way to Team USA surfing nod

Hess carves his way to Team USA surfing nodCarter Hess carved his way to a spot on the [more]

Pelicans' bullpen spoils Thompson's perfect start

Pelicans' bullpen spoils Thompson's perfect startAfter Keegan Thompson was removed following seven perfect innings for [more]

Piggot feasts, scores four goals to lead Mutiny win

Piggot feasts, scores four goals to lead Mutiny winThe Myrtle Beach Mutiny rolled to a 6-0 victory over [more]

CCU trio makes all-region; Lancaster an All-American

CCU trio makes all-region; Lancaster an All-AmericanCoastal Carolina shortstop Seth Lancaster was named to the Perfect [more]

Braves' icons Avery, Jones to appear at Pelicans game

Braves' icons Avery, Jones to appear at Pelicans gameThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans will welcome former MLB All-Stars and [more]

Coastal guard Labinowicz announces plan to transfer

Coastal guard Labinowicz announces plan to transferCoastal Carolina University men's basketball player Artur Labinowicz plans to [more]

Report: Myrtle Beach Bowl 'near lock' for 2020 kickoff

Report: Myrtle Beach Bowl 'near lock' for 2020 kickoffIn yet another development in the Grand Strand's booming sports [more]

Adaptive surfers depart for US Surfing Championship

Adaptive surfers depart for US Surfing ChampionshipLocal surfers, volunteers, and family members gathered at the Charleston [more]

All-County Boys Golf: MB's Jarman trades bat for club

All-County Boys Golf: MB's Jarman trades bat for clubIf things had worked out differently, Myrtle Beach High senior [more]

Gamecocks' season ends one win shy of Omaha

Gamecocks' season ends one win shy of OmahaThe University of South Carolina baseball team saw its season [more]

Pelicans' Ademan, Pereda, Peyton make all-star team

Pelicans' Ademan, Pereda, Peyton make all-star teamMyrtle Beach catcher Jhonny Pereda, right-hander Tyler Peyton and infielder [more]

Johnson wins at St. Jude, recaptures No. 1 ranking

Johnson wins at St. Jude, recaptures No. 1 rankingFormer Coastal Carolina two-time All-American and Myrtle Beach resident Dustin [more]

Drew turns softball skills into memorable summer

Drew turns softball skills into memorable summerOlivia Drew was crying, and her mother, Brittany Drew, was [more]

Pelicans limited to one hit as offensive woes continue

Pelicans limited to one hit as offensive woes continueAlex Lange fired six excellent innings Thursday, but the Myrtle [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2018 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach