Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bruton Smith on sandwiches, Bristol, and the need for drama in motorsports

TMS President Eddie Gossage, left, unveils sandwich as Bruton Smith, son Marcus watch.
Credit Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
Texas Motor Speedway celebrated National Sandwich day by inviting Weinberger's Deli to create sandwiches in honor of SMI founder and CEO Bruton Smith, reigning Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, and five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. In the process, Smith expounded on the state of NASCAR, opined about IndyCar and Formula One.

Much as in June when Dan Weinberger developed sandwiches in honor of Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage, NASCAR and Global RallyCross racer Travis Pastrana, and IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves, the 60-year-old deli came up with the Bruton Smith's Billion Dollar Beef, Tony Stewart's Smoke Stromboli, and Jimmie Johnson's 48 Special.

Eddie Gossage presents Tony Stewart's sandwich.
Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
During the unveiling, the consummate showman Smith held court, saying that he was not happy with the current season of racing, that "We can do better...We need to work at it diligently and make what we bring to the public better." When asked what he had in mind, Smith said, "I wish we had a couple of drivers who had a mean streak. It would add some drama if a driver got out of the car and hit somebody." He referred to Texas native A.J. Foyt, known for his ornery nature and propensity for throwing punches. "A.J. would beat you on the track, then get out of the car, go into the pits and beat you again."

On the other hand, Smith doesn't think it's a good idea to put a mic in a driver's face right after he gets out of the car, that it would be better to give him a moment. Perhaps Smith prefers dramatic actions to angry words.

He did, however, say he thought the Chase has been pretty good for the sport, but wondered about what instructions the drivers would get in the drivers' meeting with regards to how to handle racing around those drivers in the hunt for the championship.

Smith also believes that the changes made to Bristol Motor Speedway were effective. "I think that the race fans are very happy, because our ticket sales are awesome. Evidently they liked what they saw." He indicated they'd leave the track as it is for a few races, but said, "If we need to tweak it we will."

Then he sounded off on the Camping World Truck Series, which in his eyes needs help. Smith thinks of trucks as being intended to haul things so he suggested, "Put a 200 lb hog in the back of the truck." Of course the hog would be safely tied down, and then he proposed that at halftime the drivers running first and second should switch hogs. "That would be very exciting for the fans and for the crew members."

"I think if we put a hog in that truck it's going to be exciting but I don't think I can sell that to NASCAR without your help," said Smith. One might think he's joking but then again, it's Bruton Smith, so you never know.

When asked if he's attending the upcoming Formula One race at Austin, TX's Circuit of the Americas, Smith indicated that he was not. "We know about 10 people that are going, so I'm not worried about that." Gossage quickly jumped in to say that he believes the F1 race will do well, but that sustaining that success would take work.

Bruton Smith gives thumbs down to Smoke's sandwich.
Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs
One brave soul asked if Bruton Smith wanted to buy IndyCar. Smith quickly replied, "If you had asked me that eight, 10 years ago, I would have bought it. Now, no." Not even putting Gossage in charge? "No, I like Eddie." Smith said there would have to be some hatred there for him to do that and Gossage muttered about retiring instead.

The celebration of National Sandwich day turned into something completely different, but again - with Bruton Smith, that's to be expected.

In case you're interested in the sandwiches, here's what's on the menu:

Bruton Smith's Billion Dollar Beef features a toasted baguette, hot roast beef and Swiss cheese dipped in au jus then grilled with bacon and mushrooms, with a side of horseradish sauce.

Tony Stewart's Smoke Stromboli took toasted brioche and added smoky barbecue stromboli topped with ranch dressing and olives.

Jimmie Johnson's 48 Special added oven-roasted, hand-carved turkey breast and feta cheese to a toasted wheat hoagie, then put avocado, sun-dried tomato, feta cheese, chopped calamata olives then doused in chili oil.

Janine, aka Lisa or LJ, Cloud, a fifth-generation Texan, lives in Houston and considers Texas Motor Speedway her home track.

She's been a part of the Skirts and Scuffs team since May 2011, going from contributor to media rep, photographer, and associate editor covering both NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar. Janine considers it a privilege to represent the site at the track and to share with readers the excitement of the world of motorsports.

Follow her on Twitter @ljc777.

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