Editorial: Rich, old Bruton Smith killing NASCAR
If there are any NASCAR fans left who have hope that there remains a trace of the sport’s soul, Bruton Smith is here to implore them to abandon all hope.
Smith, whose Speedway Motorsports makes more money off of NASCAR than anyone or anything without the name France attached to it somewhere, is one of the money-grubbing sons of Mammon who bought the North Wilkesboro Speedway in 1995 for the sole purpose of cutting out its heart -- taking its two Winston Cup races to other, bigger tracks where the races would make more money. That speedway twice a year for decades had been the magnet drawing enough people to make North Wilkesboro, for a few days at least, one of the region’s largest cities; it now sits along U.S. 421 like the hulking skeleton of a beached whale, occupied only by the wind.
In that same spirit, Smith told Charlotte television station WBTV last week that he likely will move one of the two races -- the October one, deep in the championship chase -- that are now held at Charlotte Motor Speedway to Las Vegas. Why? He was crystal clear.
“When the game is over, it’ll be money, money, money,” Smith told WBTV. “Money will move it.”
Note that he didn’t say Charlotte loses money or barely breaks even. He just wants to make even more money than he does now.
There is some speculation that Smith is just trying to scare Cabarrus County (the “Charlotte” track actually is in Concord) into forking over $80 million or so for infrastructure improvements near and around the track.
In other words, the most charitable take on his threat to move a race to Las Vegas it that he wants taxpayers to pay 100 percent of the cost of things that will allow his obscene wealth to become even more obscene more quickly. He could pay for all of the improvements needed and barely notice the money was gone. But he doesn’t think he should have to do that. He wants local governments to roll over and do what he wants in order for him to keep his little toys there.
If that view is true, then undoubtedly he eventually will demand a regular annual cut of all the local sales taxes, hotel occupancy taxes and taxes on restaurant meals, on the theory that his race track drew all those people to the area to stimulate the economy. And when that thought finally occurs to him, woe be to whatever city has most recently embraced his black heart.
Smith evidently is one of those people who thinks he can take everything he accumulates with him when he dies. He has no loyalty to anything or anyone other than himself and his desire for more money. He has no sense of history or community. If there is a limit to what he would do for more money, we hope the world never gets so far gone that we’ll find out what it is.
And if he’s serious about moving a race, what comes next after Vegas, when he tires of the money he can get there? Mexico City? Madrid? Tokyo?
Well, it’s a free market, and he owns the tracks, so he can do what he wants. In the spirit of goodwill, here’s an idea to further boost the revenue at his Las Vegas track: Since it’s Nevada, he should be able to swing a deal to open a brothel under the stands. And maybe another in the luxury suites. Doubtless he would feel right at home there.