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Changes Coming to BMS

Updated on April 26, 2012
Spring race last month...
Spring race last month...

The World's Fastest Half-Mile Oval

It seems to me like the spring race at Bristol was over just a few weeks ago. Brad Kieslowski won for the second time in a row. But it seems the race fans are more than just unhappy, not with the victory but with the racetrack itself. So much so that the attendance was down, way down. The seating had been expanded to a little over 160,000 and the racing surface was completely re-modeled in 2007 making BMS one of the most modern and safest tracks in the circuit. The banking, known at ‘progressive banking’ was elevated to accommodate at least three abreast in the turns, and the bumpers were spring loaded for safety in the corners. Bristol was an ultra-modern updated race track ready for supposedly a whole new age of racing enthusiast with all the modern conveniences all added to support the increase in fan numbers that actually began to dwindle a little at first and finally was down about a third for this last race from the total number of tickets produced for the earlier races.

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one of the 10 things you need to see before you die...

What’s going on? These changes were all made seemingly to increase the attendance and add driver safety at BMS. Much research and collaboration as well as expense went into the up-grade, so what gives? Why has the attendance ‘slacked-off’? A preliminary answer might be… the economy, supporting the fact that the ‘times are bad’ all over and the gas prices are up--, nah, things like that don’t effect true NASCAR fans, or it hasn't in the past. Bruton Smith, the owner and CEO of BMS, promised that we would all know just what and how the changes will be accomplished. It would take a tremendous effort to remove all that has been done to the track to improve the surface, but evidently Smith is willing to do whatever it takes. "The race fans have spoken," he said in an earlier news conference, "the majority of the people we heard from said they wanted to see changes made." Also, “Bristol Motor Speedway has been voted the most popular race track in the country more than a half-dozen times, even one of the 10 things you need to see before you die. We aim to keep the status as the fans’ favorite…”

the boss gives the 'go ahead'...

OK! It's official. Finally, the race fans are having their way. At a later news conference held just yesterday morning at BMS, speedway owner and CEO, Bruton Smith gave the go-ahead to remove the latest improvements to the track, by removing the progressive banking at both ends of the half-mile oval. Hopefully the old style ‘rubbin and racing’ style of racing will bring the fans back and once again increase the interest and revenues at BMS. At a news conference following last month race Smith said he wanted to listen to what the fans had to say and after 7 to 10 days of listening Smith replied there was no question that the overwhelming majority were asking for alterations to the track. "Since March 28, when we announced that changes would be made, we have listened to the fans, heard from the drivers and talk to the engineers about what to do and how much time we had to do it. Once we knew the direction, we located the right equipment to make it happen," Smith said.

a major undertaking with a time schedule...

"The majority of fans we heard from said they wanted adjustments made and the bulk of those said the progressive banking was what they didn't like," Smith said in clarification of just what would be done at BMS. The adjustments or modifications all seem to concentrate on the progressive banking made during the 2007 renovations. “So, that’s the focus of our efforts. And that is what we are working to change,” Smith said. The idea to change the track surface was not an easy choice to make, and he also said that listening to the fans has always served him well in the past. He also said he wanted the fans to love their experience at Bristol and that he felt they would ultimately be pleased with these results.

So there you have it. The work is underway as we speak and the track is to be ready as BMS kicks off race week August 22 with a doubleheader featuring the Camping World Truck Series race and the UNHO Perfect Storm 150 Whelen Modified and also on the 24th the popular Food City 250 Nationwide Series to be followed by the IRWIN Tools Night Race Sprint Cup race the following day.

© 2012 SamSonS


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    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 5 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you so much Pam for your rapid response. I find NASCAR has a following all over the country as well as in many foreign countries. It's also good to know that the concerns of the public are being addressed in this return to a more competitive environment...

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      My husband loves racing and he spends the weekends watching all of them. He has complained frequently about some of the new changes and he will be happy about your news, assuming he hasn't heard it already. Thanks for a good informative hub.