Race Weekend Central

SMI to Re-Create “Old Bristol”

Dave Moody is reporting that Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) CEO O. Bruton Smith has decided to move ahead with a plan to return Bristol Motor Speedway to its old configuration from 1992-2007. The move is coming after Sunday’s Food City 500 (March 18) had the lowest attendance of any Sprint Cup race in Bristol since 1997.

Following Sunday’s race, Smith requested that Bristol Motor Speedway reach out to fans and ask them what they think about the current track surface and whether the track should leave it alone or fix it. The sentiment was rather telling.

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“I’d say its about 75% from the race fans that they’d like to see us put it back the way it was five years ago,” Smith said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s The Late Shift with Buddy Baker and Jim Noble. “It’s not a major change that we did [to the track]. We took up all the old concrete that was breaking up and causing a lot of problems.

“We completely redid the speedway and fans got the idea that it’s not the same. I guess it’s not the same since they told us that and the race fan is always right. When the race fans speak, you listen. And that’s what we’re doing now.”

Race track renovations are not a cheap proposition, but Smith and SMI have plenty of funds to be able to do the work. In addition, Smith has already brought the idea up to engineers.

“We have on paper exactly the way the track was before we came in and redid it,” Smith said. “We’re going to have all the elevations, the ingress and egress as it was before we completely redid it. We will here again offer race fans the track the way it was.

What is really telling about this move is that Smith admits that SMI have not even gone to NASCAR about their intentions (although, they do intend to in the near future). They just plan to go ahead with the renovations anyway.

Smith expects that the construction will be done in time for the August NASCAR weekend, featuring the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck series, along with the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 combination race for the Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour. The renovations will cost roughly $1 million.

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