NASCAR & Auto Racing

He's wrong, but Bruton Smith and his speedway bluff are a blast

Bruton Smith is not going to abandon Lowe's Motor Speedway. You understand that, right? His threat to build a track outside of Concord because the city won't give him what he wants when he wants it is the year's most overblown story.

And I love it. I love that Bruton doesn't hire a focus group every time he wants to go public with an outrageous opinion. He is an old-school billionaire, a salesman and promoter who did not make his fortune being meek.

So in his most serious and entrepreneurial voice, he tells reporters and talk show hosts that because Concord won't let him build a drag strip on speedway grounds he has no choice but to build a bigger and better track in a town that loves him more.

It's no different than the Florida Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins claiming that if they don't get a new baseball stadium, they will move to Charlotte.

Remember all the attention they received? Remember how excited the more gullible among us became? Those teams never planned to come here. It was all pretend.

I give Concord credit for not backing down. The speedway has been great for Concord, yes. But is Concord supposed to drop to one knee every time Bruton, who owns the speedway, makes a demand? A guy can be powerful and rich and wrong, and Bruton is.

The folks who bought houses in the Ridge Crossing subdivision probably noticed there was a track nearby before they arranged their mortgages.

Moving to the speedway's neighborhood and being surprised that racing is conducted is like moving to Huntersville and being surprised the schools are crowded.

But the Ridge Crossing residents did not expect a drag strip. Ever been to a drag strip? When I went to Rockingham Dragway -- and I loved the place -- I was allowed to stand at the starting line.

I brought earplugs. Those aren't earplugs, I was told. These are earplugs. They looked like headphones. Whoa. I felt as if I was wearing a catcher's mitt over each ear.

The noise, of course, won't be as loud the farther you go from the track.

But it will be loud.

I stood at the site of the proposed drag strip and swear that if your arm was strong enough, you could drop back and throw a spiral into the subdivision.

The dirt at the proposed strip was being moved and smoothed. It's Bruton's dirt, after all, and he can play with it all he wants. But on what grounds does he subject the residents to the noise?

Typical suburban Charlotte conversation: "So, Heather, are you naming the baby Carter or Campbell?"

Typical suburban Charlotte conversation during a drag race: RRRRRRRROOWWWRRR!!!

Whether it's Lowe's Motor Speedway, Wal-Mart or any other corporate entity that wants to enrich our lives and their bank accounts, they don't know what's best for us. We know what's best for us.

I'm sure Bruton has had a blast going public with his anger. He has made himself the biggest story in town. And if the attention sells a few thousand tickets to his Oct. 13 race, he won't mind at all.

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