After watching the race at Bristol this past weekend and seeing the reactions on social media and various television shows from fans, media, and drivers over the past couple days, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the matter.
In short, the racing at Bristol is not what it used to be, and I do miss it. A combination of the track reconfiguration, newer cars (the CoT), and changes in tire compounds have changed the complexion of racing there. The racing there is fine, but it’s not what fans, including myself, had become accustomed to and had grown to expect when they went there or watched on TV. Now, it’s a multi-groove track that allows side-by-side racing with the ability to pass someone that doesn’t require as much bumping and grinding. However, it seems as if NASCAR and the media continued to hype and promote the race as if it were still the crazy, nutso, bump’n'run, caution-fest, helmet-throwing tempers Bristol of old, when, in fact, it just isn’t anymore. Now, it’s just a smaller version of many of the other tracks out there. (Yes, every track is unique, but I think you know what I mean.) The reasons for going to a race there that had been present for so long, just aren’t there now. That in combination with the current state of the economy causing those that could only afford to go to one race opting for just the night race were contributing factors in the less than stellar crowd.
It does seem that Bruton Smith has seemed to recognize this and is looking at reconfiguring the track again. We’ll have to wait and see how this will affect the racing there, if it happens, and our reactions to it. Regardless, I think the key for the future is for NASCAR to set a reasonable level of expectation and stop promoting it like it’s still the old Bristol and for all of us to stop expecting it to be. I think this article from Sports@Work mirrors my thoughts pretty well.
Anyway, that’s my 2 cents on the subject.