When running a business there is one thing you need to remember: "The customer is always right." Or as Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants once said, "The money is always right!"
Bruton Smith gets that. When Bristol Motor Speedway was more than half-empty back in March, Smith decided to do something radical. He polled the fans on what they wanted from the race track.
Fans have complained on Twitter and radio shows since August of 2007 when the track put in progressive banking that the Bristol Motor Speedway they knew and loved was dead. "The drivers have too much room now" they said, "they don't have to beat and bang" they said, "the drivers don't get angry anymore" they said, and worst of all, they said Bristol Motor Speedway is now boring.
Think about that. Fans said Bristol is boring. Bristol! Boring! Before August of 2007 that was blasphemy. Most fans would probably stone you to death if you said Bristol is boring. If you said Kansas Speedway was boring most fans would agree with you, but not Bristol. But sadly that is how most people feel about Bristol now.
Sure, the progressive banking has made it possible to run two and even three-wide, something thought to be impossible at Bristol before August of 2007. That type of racing is usually awesome. Fans would love to see that kind of racing at Kansas Speedway throughout most of the race.
But that's not what Bristol is about. Bristol is about the bump and run. Bristol is about using the bumper to move someone out of the way. It is about emotion, something that's been missing in the Sprint Cup Series this season. It's about Kevin Harvick jumping over a car to get at Greg Biffle. It's about Jeff Gordon giving Matt Kenseth a hard shove.
Many in the media however are ignoring the fans completely. When the fans say they want the "Old Bristol" back, they want the anger and emotions. What the media hears is "We want wrecking." The media has decided that all fans who want the Old Bristol back just want it back to watch crashes. They tell those fans "Go to your local figure-eight track if that's all you want to see." And that's not fair. The fans know what they want, and most of them haven't said they want wrecking. Many media members are trying to tell fans what kind of racing they should want.
Bristol Motor Speedway before 2007 wasn't all about wrecking. If anything, that's Martinsville Speedway. The drivers were forced to race hard every lap. You couldn't let anyone by you if they were faster because you'd lose multiple positions. That is the Bristol Motor Speedway fans fell in love with. There's a reason Bristol Motor Speedway was sold out for more than 50 races in a row, and there's also a reason the track has 165,000 seats. The fans loved the racing at that race track before 2007.
When a race track that had a sell-out streak of more than 50 straight races and was built to 165,000 seats because the fans kept wanting more is suddenly more than half-empty just a few years later, a change needs to be made. Bruton Smith tried to make a change this year to give the fans what they want. Judging by Wednesday night's Truck Series race, the changes haven't worked.
But Smith probably won't give up. Most likely another change will be made if the fans still aren't happy.
He's listening to the fans. Others should too.