November 6, 2012
By Doug Demmons
Bruton Smith doesn’t hold news conferences. He holds court.
Three or four times a year the chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc.
will stroll into the media center when NASCAR visits one of SMI’s
tracks and he’ll hold forth on what the sport needs to change.
Some of his ideas are straight out of left field -- like mandatory
cautions -- and the vast majority are ignored by the folks in Daytona
But Bruton didn’t make all that money by being stupid and the sport
would do well to at least listen to his suggestions.
At Texas Motor Speedway, Smith strolled into the media center and
dropped a few notes in NASCAR’s suggestion box.
He’d like to slow the cars down to make things more competitive and
encourage contact. And he’d really like to do something about
fuel-mileage racing, which he told reporters is “boring, boring,
But what he’d really like to see are drivers with more personality,
shorter tempers and a “mean streak.”
“We need more helmet throwing,” Smith was quoted as saying.
In other words, NASCAR needs to be more like Dodge City than New York City.
Of course, the odds that NASCAR will implement a “Helmets Have At It”
rule are somewhere between slim and none. But the sport could
certainly use a bit of a personality transplant.
The sport doesn’t need to go back to the days when hotheads went
looking for each other after the race armed with a pry bar. But it
could use some smack talk, some disrespect, some attitude. It could
use a few villains not named Busch.
Fortunately, there are plenty of possibilities currently in the
Nationwide and Truck Series, just waiting for a chance to rub someone
the wrong way in Cup.
Here are some suggestions:
Todd Bodine -- Anyone nicknamed after a pungent vegetable is bound to
spice up the stew. The Onion has no qualms about roughing up someone,
but after all, he does race in the Truck Series.
Kenny Wallace -- The Mouth That Roared could use a restrictor plate on
his steady stream of comments about any topic whatsoever. But then he
wouldn’t be Kenny, or Herm, or the Herminator, or whatever. He didn’t
amass a gazillion followers on Twitter by being politically correct.
Nelson Piquet Jr. -- What a great villain he’d make. He’s a former
Formula One driver, which already makes him suspect to half of NASCAR
Nation. Plus, he waves the flag of his native Brazil when he wins. Do
that at Talladega and more than beer cans will come flying out of the
Johanna Long -- When Danica gets to Cup next year she is going to need
some female competition to keep things interesting since it will be a
while before Danica wins a Cup race. Long is the anti-Danica, the girl
least likely to strut around in a GoDaddy commercial. She’s all
business. Put her in Hendrick equipment and she’d beat Danica to
Trevor Bayne -- The Daytona 500 winner is the guy you want your
daughter to marry. He’s so clean cut he makes Opie Taylor look like a
meth dealer. If you ever pick up a newspaper and see that Bayne has
been arrested, you will know that the end times are upon us. Squeaky
clean might seem to go against the image Bruton is calling for, but
every villain needs a Dudley Do-Right. It’s a matter/anti-matter
Johnny Sauter -- The Sprint Cup Series could use more drivers like
Brad Keselowski and Sauter is made to order. He’s got swagger. He’s
got attitude. He isn’t afraid to not play nice. And he’s got a chip on
his shoulder -- which makes him perfect.
Helio Castroneves -- Yes, he’s an IndyCar driver and he’d probably
fare no better in the beginning than other open-wheel refugees. But he
has too much personality for his own good. This is a guy who once
tried to pick a fight with IndyCar’s really large security chief, a
guy who went door-to-door with the IRS and put the tax collectors in
the wall. Besides, is there anyone in the NASCAR garage that you can
imagine seeing on Dancing With The Stars?
Doug Demmons is a writer and editor for the Birmingham News ~ he writes daily and weekly auto racing columns ranging from NASCAR to open wheel to Formula One, local tracks and more... you can read Doug's columns online at ALABAMA MOTORSPORTS
Follow Doug on Twitter: @dougdemmons
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.