Everyone noticed Sunday that Bristol’s attendance was lower than ever before, are fans boycotting the “new” Bristol? Ever since the re-configuration in 2007 the racing at one of NASCAR’s premiere tracks has been less exciting and enjoyable. Most NASCAR fans won’t admit it but they like to see the crashes and cautions during the race, the cautions set-up exciting restarts with side by side racing. Now the reconfigured Bristol Motor Speedway now has essentially two racing lanes which eliminated the bump and run move which fans adored. That move is a part of short-track racing and forever will be, but not at Bristol anymore.
We could see the exciting bump and run move but less frequently. The annual races at Bristol is a need to see for race fans, but are fans crossing it off their wish lists after the uneventful race this past Sunday? I will be going to Bristol for the first time this August to see some real short track racing, which now might not exist at Bristol. Many fans like me will pay somewhere near $2,000 dollars for this incredible experience.
The usually sold-out event in August is usually sold out well in advance of a month prior the event. During the spring race we typically see a decent crowd but never before have we seen the crowd we saw Sunday. For the first time on Sunday fans, especially on twitter were commenting about how they could see so much grandstand and so few people.
The rain earlier that day did contribute to the lack of fans but not all 56,000 empty seats which Bristol executives estimated were empty. This “New” Bristol features less bumping and action but many drivers are in favor of the redesign because they can now “race” at the track not worrying about getting bumped or wrecking. Kyle Busch has won three cup races at Bristol since the track was reconfigured.
Other drivers like Kurt Busch haven’t won a cup event there since the track was reconfigured. In a recent poll I took about 85% of fans weren’t in favor of the “new” Bristol racing style. If NASCAR will listen to the fans like they have been in recent years they might adjust the racing at Bristol before this year’s August race.
After Sunday’s race Denny Hamlin tweeted that he would appreciate Goodyear not bringing a tire to Bristol that was as hard as the racing surface. That could be an answer to the growing issue fans have with the “new” Bristol racing that occurs at the track. Fewer wrecks might be a problem with the fans but the drivers and owners are in favor of it.
We’ll have to wait and see if NASCAR acts on the issue but if they don’t Bristol will be categorized to most fans as just another track they race at during the thirty-six week NASCAR season.