Say what you want about Bruton Smith, you can’t accuse the guy of not speaking his mind. And you can bet when there are eager reporters around him the gospel according to Bruton is about to be preached.
Though it might have gotten lost in the noise about Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, Smith took time this past weekend to give his take on the state of the sport, and the changes he would like to see made.
Among his comments, Smith lamented his investment in Motorsports Authentics calling it the “worst decision I have ever made in my business life.” He also said he believes he can get a Kentucky Cup race on the schedule for next season (see stories here, here and here).
Always interesting though were Smith’s suggestions on how to improve the sport. He suggested:
- NASCAR give Las Vegas a second Cup date to finish out the season and give Homestead California’s second date
- Consider changing the points system
- Make the fields smaller to eliminate start and park teams which he called a disgrace
- Alter the payout system, making wins worth more, to entice drivers to run more aggressively
I haven’t been the biggest advocate of moving the end of the year banquet to Las Vegas, but it clearly is a market that embraces the sport. Could they support two races a year? Probably. And why not finish the season in the place where you’re going to hold the banquet?
Smith said the health of the sport will be tied to the venues on NASCAR’s schedule. I think he makes an important point that the sport needs to stage events where the market is most likely to embrace the product. Unfortunately for Smith, NASCAR isn’t too likely to take dates away from the France family controlled ISC.
Another point Smith made was the need to remove the emphasis of points racing. Do you tune in every week to see your favorite driver run conservatively in order to maintain his points position? I’m guessing the answer is no. While I agree with him on that point I think altering the payout system penalizes those underfunded teams who do actually run full races (ex. Front Row Motorsports). I can’t say I have a better suggestion on how to get drivers to be more aggressive on track though.
On the topic of start and parks (though I could care less) I’m warming to the idea of making fields smaller. Maybe we need to go back to having the size of fields fluctuate depending on which track we’re at. It would redistribute the purses and give S+P’s less of an opportunity to participate.
I can’t say I agree with everything Smith said or suggested, but some of it made sense. For all his eccentricities I think he does a good job of understanding the wants and needs of fans. As one of the sport’s biggest stakeholders NASCAR ought to bring Bruton Smith to the table a little more often.