Speedway Motorsports Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith was ready for battle as he met with the media Friday. His press conference was addressed to discuss the traffic problem at SMI’s Kentucky Speedway last Saturday.
Over 10,000 race fans never made the event, as well as fans sitting in over 20 miles of backups stretching from Sparta, KY to Cincinnati, OH.
“The people that came early had no problem,” Smith said. “But those that waited a little bit late, those were the ones that had a problem. … I am sincerely sorry that all the fans did not get in there.”
What angered most race fans was how the track reacted (somewhat slowly) than expected. Smith assured the media that he has had no plans and currently has no plans to compensate those 10,000 race fans by giving them a refund on the tickets they were not able to use. SMI has arranged those fans to use their “unused” race tickets at other SMI tracks this season, or a chance to use the tickets for the 2012 Kentucky Speedway race.
“We offered the exchange of tickets, but a cash refund? We will not,” Smith said. “We don’t want to. … Don’t confuse traffic with what occurred in Dallas [and the condemned seats for the Super Bowl].
“They sold seats and collected money and the people got there and didn’t have any seats. That wasn’t the case. We had a traffic problem. We didn’t have a seat problem.”
Smith and other SMI officials are planning on meeting with the Kentucky governor’s office next week to discuss what took place last Saturday. SMI did build over 38,000 additional seats over the last year, increasing the total seating capacity to 107,000. Smith believed that more than 107,000 actually came to Saturday’s event, something track officials “somewhat” expected.
The 84-year-old billionaire said he doesn’t believe that the track sold tickets to more fans than it could accommodate. He said the track doesn’t have an exact count of how many people were there and how many never made it because of the lack of scanned tickets.
“So many people were trying to get in there and they were unable to do so,” Smith said. “We had sold out. We had been selling standing-room only. … We know how to fix things, we know how to build things.
SMI has over a $3 Billion invested in this prized sport, already owning tracks like Atlanta, Charlotte, Texas, Las Vegas, and many more.
Here were some of the “classic” lines from Smith’s press conference:
-”I don’t think anybody could foresee what occurred. Maybe God knew, but I don’t know of anybody else knew how many people would try to come see this event.”
-”I don’t know who in the heck he is, but I don’t care to know. It would be like if one of my people responded to Daytona in a nasty way when the track broke up (in the Daytona 500) and they had to stop the race for two hours. That is not what we’re about. It reminded me of something. I was born and raised on a farm. And we had a jackass that got away from us. He was young and frisky. I remember my dad saying, ‘That’s the sorriest jackass we’ve ever had.’ But he got away and we never did recover him, but I understand he’s popped up now in Michigan somewhere.”
-”I’m not saying it’s different. I’m not upset by it. I’m just saying it’s stupid. And you can’t fix stupid! Right?”
-”I’m for NASCAR all the way. I want to build this sport. I was watching something that was referred to as “dancing partners” in Daytona. If you want to be critical of something, I’m critical of that race. Did you see that race? Took two cars to win a race? Well, if you’ve got dancing partners, then we’ve got a different race.”
-”To me, it’s life if Major League Baseball changed the rules to where you’ve got to have two bats when you go up to bat. That don’t make any sense. So I’m asking NASCAR, ‘Let’s go to work on this car and let’s stop the foolishness of this car pushing another one.’ That’s not what we built this sport on. That is not good.”
-”Let’s see who fixes what first. I am absolutely dedicated to fixing the problems at Kentucky before the dancing partners thing can be cured. ”