The first candidate to run a campaign as effectively as Bruton Smith ran his will be our next president.
Bruton was brilliant. He began to build a drag strip at his race track, Lowe's Motor Speedway. Concord told him to stop since there's a neighborhood a 2-wood away. Concord stood up for residents and against noise.
But wait. Shouldn't folks who look out their back window and see almost 2,000 acres of speedway expect noise? Of course they should. But the difference between race-track noise and drag-strip noise is like the difference between NASCAR's television ratings and the NFL's. It's vast.
So Concord stood up to the man and fought the power. While Concord did this, Bruton announced he might move the speedway to a place where racing is appreciated.
That's all it took. Bruton began rolling and almost everybody took his side. You had to go through a scalper to get a seat on that bandwagon. The publicity he generated sold more race tickets than the all-you-can-eat grandstand.
It's a time-tested phenomenon. Commoners like to identify with the rich and famous. When was the last time a powerful guy had to pay his tab at the bar? Somebody always picks it up.
Those in the media who are allowed to express an opinion believed Bruton would move the track.
So did Rowan County, which tried to sneak in and snake the track away.
Not only did folks believe Smith, they believed in him. If he wanted to build a drag strip, then get out of the way because it is entrepreneurs like Bruton who made this country great.
Bruton used the media and the talk shows to reach the people. He is a great interview, willing to be outrageous and never reading from a script. He's one of the many characters NASCAR generates. As I'm sure NASCAR is aware, all those characters are at least 60.
Bruton is pushing 80. He wears those Elizabeth Taylor-looking sunglasses and is soft-spoken and charming, and you can't help but like him. Charisma, however, did not make him a billionaire. If you take him on, you better know your role.
Concord did not. Michael Waltrip has a better chance of winning tonight's Bank of America 500 than Concord had of beating Smith. Darrell Waltrip has a better chance than Concord did.
The Bruton-vs.-Concord story was great while it lasted, and what made it great is that Bruton was never going to move the speedway.
What does he tell fans who bought condos that overlook the track? The view won't be the same but neither will the traffic?
What does he tell shareholders? We abandoned the most impressive piece of architecture in the state because Concord was mean to us?
Bruton, whose initials are B.S., didn't have to move. He just had to pretend.
Concord is now talking about offering a tax break to help Smith build the drag strip.
I'm not sure if Bruton drinks his coffee with one cream and one sugar, but Concord better find out. Rowan County will. IN MY OPINION Tom Sorensen