The Frontstretch: When It Comes to Bristol, "Professional" Poole Doesn't Have a Clue by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday August 30, 2007

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When It Comes to Bristol, "Professional" Poole Doesn't Have a Clue

Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday August 30, 2007


As most folks who actually know me can attest, I am a pretty easygoing guy. It takes a lot (whether it's your actions or “beverages,” on my part) to get me riled up. Despite that laid-back nature, though, I can also be very blunt. Inevitably, people to whom I have been very blunt to often confuse my bluntness with being “riled up,” which is sad – because that is seldom the case. “Riled up” would mean that I actually care, and that, too, is seldom the case. Today, however, I am going to be both blunt and “riled up.” A rare treat, indeed! Lucky you, my faithful readers.

Last week, I made my yearly journey to Bristol to take in this year's edition of the Sharpie 500, as I have done every such August since 2002. Point being, I've seen a lot of racing, in person, at the fabled Speedway in Thunder Valley. I go to this particular track not as a member of the media, but as a fan – which works out rather nicely, as I've always been a fan first and a writer second. Truth be told, I think I only got into this writing gig as part of a drunken wager, the details of which are still quite hazy to all who were involved.

But that’s besides the point. After seeing things firsthand, I have no problem being blunt…the racing at BMS this past week was the BEST racing to take place on that track for a long, long time. If you did not like it, you have lost touch with the concept of what racing is truly about! However, do not be offended. There are a couple of excuses which I will accept for your ignorance.

The first is simple and straight forward enough. You have never been to a race in person at Bristol Motor Speedway. If you would have been there, or if you have been there in the past, you would readily, and quite correctly, agree with me about last week's quality of the racing.

Bristol Motor Speedway is one of two tracks on the circuit that you will ALWAYS see more racing by being AT the track than you would if you watch it on TV. Television simply cannot show you everything that you can see at Bristol as opposed to being in the stands yourself. Out of 160,000 possible places to sit, you can see EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME, even if only in your peripheral vision, to which you can then focus your eyes (should you so choose) much faster than they do on TV.

But BMS has always been about the “experience” more than the racing. For years and years, there has been only one groove on the race track… and that is the bottom. The races there have always been a “parade,” and passes were made with the patented “bump and run.” It had become the accepted way. That “accepted way” resulted in the inevitable spin or crash, which made for great TV but lessened the purity of the race. With that said, the experience of hearing 43, 800-horsepower cars racing in a “bowl” is what makes Bristol what it is. It’s a sound that I can only describe as "having to shout into your own ear to hear yourself when you have a thought" which, oddly enough, can be achieved with the proper amount of beverages and a bit of practice.

So, as I sat and watched the Cup race last Saturday from my vantage point in the Pearson Grandstand, Sec. FF, Row 15, Seat 13, (Turn 1) I was absolutely amazed! I never thought I would see the day when cars were racing, three-wide in the corners at Bristol. They could go low, high, or in the middle…at speed! That is something that simply was never done at Bristol for at least the last ten years. I honestly do not have the words to express how truly great it was to see cars actually race there. The Cup race was the same way – the BMS slogan, "Racin’ the way it ought to be" is finally 100% accurate.

With that said, the thing that has me “riled up” is this; I come back home to find reports on radio shows and in the press that the race was boring! Now, radio show call-ins I can dismiss because, let’s face it, they probably were NOT there and on television, yes, a green flag pit stop at BMS could be construed as boring because that means a long green flag run with no crashes and, as we all know, no crashes at Bristol means no excitement…or so you've been trained to believe. Well let me tell you one thing; you have not experienced “boring” until you sit in the stands at Bristol and watch a race with 20 cautions and over a quarter of its advertised length run at caution speed.

But what really irks the living crap outta me is so called “professional” media types, such as David Poole, who, through a gross misunderstanding of his power to sway people's perception, continues to perpetuate the idea that last week's races were bad. Consider this bit of “expert analysis” that Poole authored in a recent article after the Cup race:

“But there is no possible way any sane person would think the average race fan liked what they saw Saturday night more than what they had come to be used to at Bristol.”

Since when does David Poole know what the average person likes? When I read that, I had to read it over again to see if I got it right. Was this guy at the same race I was at? OK, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he quickly typed something up to meet a deadline. But then I read the following, and I got really pissed:

“But as the fans who came to see it were walking out late on a hot August night, they weren't talking about all the great memories they'd just made. They weren't talking about how incredible it was to see the kind of racing you don't see anywhere else.”

Now, I can't say for certain just exactly where David Poole watched the race from last Saturday night – chances are it was from a monitor in the media center. However, I will bet my dollars to Poole's doughnuts that he definitely was NOT in the herds of sweaty race fans making their way out of BMS to hear what they were saying about the race they had just witnessed. Trust me; if you know anything about David Poole (or talked to people who know him), you would put your money on my side of the wager. Let’s just put it this way; everywhere in Bristol is uphill, especially from the media center! David Poole was NOT among the “fans,” I guarantee.

Well, Mr. Poole, I WAS among the sweltering masses that were exiting BMS, and I can tell you that during the long time I was amongst them (an amount of time you would appreciate should you dare to try it) NOT ONE of them ever said a bad thing about the race that I heard. The same goes for everyone I talked to and partied with in the campground where I was staying. Everyone loved the new Bristol…everyone that knows what they are talking about, anyway.

So, don't be duped by so-called "professionals" such as David Poole (the second excuse I would accept for ignorance). He wasn't where I was or sweated with the true racing fan like I did last weekend. He does not have a clue.

Instead, “racing the way it ought to be” finally hit the nail on the head. My hat is off to Bruton Smith and all those at BMS who brought this dream to fruition.

Stay off the wall, (easier to do since the re-paving!)

Jeff Meyer

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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08/30/2007 06:00 AM

Your article was well written and most of all — your opinion. The same way David Poole’s article was his opinion. And MY opinion is that I have to agree with David Poole. We race fans have come to expect a certain type of race at Bristol — and we didn’t get it and probably never will again. I’m always leery when drivers as a unit praise a new track or a change at a track. That usually means they don’t have to fight any more. They have to race for it — sure — but no blood and guts and glory is really involved. Bristol was the last of a dying breed. And now its gone. Rest in peace, Bristol and all that you stood for.

race momma
08/30/2007 06:09 AM

I agree with you 100%. I was also there Kulwicki section-it was the best cup race I have ever seen @ Bristol. The Busch race was awesome and I think we will continue to see great races at Bristol. Who would have thought you could have 3 wide racing at Bristol. It doesn’t get any better. You are also correct that TV does not do Bristol justice-you have to experience it to understand and Mr. Poole was basically watching on TV from the media center. As for the post from Carol-did you hear any post race interviews the drivers were exhausted-no lengthy cautions means they have to be on top of their game the whole night. They are not used to that at Bristol. It was a demanding race for them.

Joe Mama
08/30/2007 06:12 AM

I have to agree with David Poole. Perhaps the problem was with ESPN’s coverage – or lack of covering all but the top five cars. I am sure the race was great if you were at the track but the vast majority of people see it on tv and we’re the one’s that feel that the race sucked. Yes we like mangled cars, helmets being thrown, drivers spewing anger motivated words at other drivers, beating and banging, rattling cages, etc. If that makes us bad race fans then I guess that’s something we have to live with. The bottom line is the true measure of a race is the perception those watching on tv had, not those that were at the track.

08/30/2007 06:19 AM

I watched the race on TV. I thought it sucked. How many more are there like me than ones like you?

08/30/2007 06:30 AM

Jeff has it right on the money. I have never been there, but watched only on TV, and I thought it was the best Bristol we’d ever seen—the cars could actually race, imagine that, much more like other short track racing I’ve seen. Most of the former drivers have said that that was how it used to be. Now certain ‘fans’ have to admit they wanted to watch wrecks, not racing. I’m just not one of them. Poole has had a vendetta against other race tracks (Watkins Glen, where I have been one of the sweltering fans…) that has been absurd. The fact was, they made improvements for the fans and teams, not for the spoiled overfed journalists sitting in the air conditioned press boxes. And his ‘opinion’ in this case, is no more educated than any of ours, despite his years of experience. Jeff, thanks for the first hand account of what some of us had already seen.

M. B. Voelker
08/30/2007 06:33 AM

I watched the race on TV, with Fox Trax up on the computer, and while participating in the race thread at the Speed Insider boards.

The race presented on the TV by ESPN was boring. The coverage was a bunch of empty blather intermittently punctuated by weird camera angle shots of cars running alone.

The Fox Trax showed that a great deal more was happening on the track than was being captured on TV.

Message board participants watching via Hotpass or listening to PRN confirmed that a much better race was happening than was on TV.

I’m willing to believe you and others I know who were there that it was a good race. I wish ESPN had bothered to show it to us.

08/30/2007 06:45 AM

I sat in Waltrip Section D and have been going to Bristol the last six years. This las t race is definitly the best race I have been to yet. I agree with Jeff, who would have ever thought that we would see three wide racing in the corners @ Bristol. Bristol has finally become racing instead of crashing. I am also tired of reading how boring this race was. Great artcle Jeff.

Writer Chick
08/30/2007 07:17 AM

David Poole was definitely NOT in the media center…he was high up in the press box, sitting in the row behind me. Trust me, he saw the same boring race I did. With two drivers leading all but 30 laps, THAT is boring.

08/30/2007 07:47 AM

Just a short note. All I heard walking back to camp were fans saying they’ve never seen a better Cup race at Brisol. I guess to some, boring is a race with no crashes.

08/30/2007 07:49 AM

Right on Jeff!

I watched the race on TV, and thought it was excellent compared with past races at the Bowl. Admittedly, ESPN’s coverage wasn’t up to par.

You hit the nail head with your comment on caution laps. What kind of dazed & confused race fan enjoys watching a quarter of the race run under the yellow flag, or even one-seventh of the race for that matter?

Ken in Va.
08/30/2007 08:01 AM

I live 50 miles from the track and I have been to the night race at Bristol. Despite watching the race in high definition on a 52” TV with home theatre, the race was boring. I judge a race by whether my 54 year old brother can stay awake through the whole race. He fell asleep at lap 400. NASCAR’s spin regarding the increased amount of passing was not helpful to the discussion since most of it was not near the front.

I should have driven 10 miles from my house and watched a good race on our 1/2 mile dirt track.

08/30/2007 08:02 AM

I was at the spring race at bristol and for only the second time in my life, I went to the race as a spectator rather than a journalist. The racing I saw was first-rate. What I saw on television on Saturday was good racing but lacked the excitement of bristol of old. I immediately wrote to Jeff Byrd, GM of BMS. Apparently I was not the only person who thought the race was rather unexciting because the next day recieved the following reply:

Thanks for the email and your comments regarding the Sharpie 500. While I don’t disagree that the Sharpie 500 lacked some of the action that sets Bristol apart from the other NASCAR tracks, I am at a loss to explain the difference between Friday night and Saturday night. According to a very high placed NASCAR official, Friday night’s Food City 250 was the best Busch Series race he had ever seen. Now when you consider that the track didn’t change from one night to the other, you wonder what the problem was.

We learned from NASCAR that there were 2,147 passes in the Sharpie 500 compared to 991 in this spring’s Food City 500. That alone doesn’t mean much but it does demonstrate that the potential is definitely there for great racing.

I believe that Goodyear brought the hardest tires available and that, coupled with the lack of testing or practice for the Cup cars, produced a tamer than usual race. We built a race track that produced incredible side by side, two and three wide racing on Friday night with 10 cautions. Saturday night had its moments but overall lacked the action of Friday night. I believe that by next March, the teams will have the new Bristol figured out. Just as Bruton Smith wouldn’t stand for the single file racing on the old surface, he will work to provide the best racing experience possible on the new surface. I know it will get better – the Busch race show is what Bristol will look like in the future. Thanks again for writing.

Jeff Byrd

Perhaps ‘boring’ isn’t the right word. ‘Less than exciting’ may be more appropriate. I don’t believe we’ll ever see the helmet-throwing and flaring tempers at bristol again and that’s because the CAN race three wide there now. Excitement builds, and tempers flare, when three guys want a spot that is only big enough for two. Smith proved he could build an awesome track. The question isn’t ‘could he’ but rather ‘should he’… Some things are best left as they are… or were. I think that in the years ahead, tickets to the Bristol night race are going to be easier to get.
That said, in 2003 I interviewed John Andretti. I asked him if he could design the perfect track, what would it look like. He said, “It sure wouldn’t be Bristol. Fans love it but drivers don’t. There’s Kyle Petty over there. Go ask him how much he likes taking his cars to Bristol. As a fan its great. As an owner, it’s too expensive.”
true, but its still fun.

laidback racing
08/30/2007 09:12 AM

The Busch race was the BEST race I have ever seen sitting in the bristol grandstands…the cup race was no where near as good. Blame it on the chase and the COT…the only difference between the 2 nights

08/30/2007 09:25 AM

Too many people have never seen the Bristol used to be when it was asphalt. The racing was awesome. Perhaps not too many lead changes happened, but spectating any event, the experience of watching the whole thing is what should be viewed. Do you watch football by just looking at the quarterback and not the blocker wiping out the linebacker off to the side? Or the DB clocking the receiver on a sweep? How about baseball? Do you never watch how the infielders position themselves and move and crouch when the pitch is starting to be thrown?

There are so many more battles in an auto race than just who is leading at the time.

Open your eyes people (and David Poole)

Marty C
08/30/2007 09:34 AM

I watched it on TV and thought it was a great race. I was shocked to hear people say it was boring. I have to agree with you…3 wide at Bristol, it doesn’t get much better than that. I’ve been around NASCAR racing since 1962 and gone from fan to track photographer, to crew member so maybe I appreciate the racing more than the crashing that the newer “fans” seem to like.

08/30/2007 09:50 AM

Thank you, Jeff, for your perspective. I agree with you 100%. I truly don’t understand when so called ‘fans’ can say that the bump and run is true racing when they can come in and run three wide. Why does there have to be contact to be good racing?

The television coverage has been mediocre at best since ESPN took over. I am sure it is because they believe they are showing us the cars the believe we want to see and not scanning the entire field. I wasn’t at the race live, but could tell it was exiciting. Heck, the stats in number of passes tells the story.

The one thing that could have made the race ‘boring’ was the fact that two cars hit the setups and the rest didn’t. That is a function of the CoT where less cars are going to hit the setups until the teams get used to it. Next year, I would imagine that we will have more cars battling for the lead.

In any case, I hope that future races at Bristol have the same type of passing and not the bump and run. I’m sorry, but I would attend a race at Bristol with true passing before I would to just watch the bump and run.

08/30/2007 10:12 AM

Yes I agree there are few places better than Bristol, that I have seen to “watch a race” Reading btw the lines tells me that the ones who thought it boring are jeffy, jimmy or “e” fans wanting other smash-up Bully/bowtie victory. Seems to them like its always boring when a Ford wins. Sorry but 3-wide makes for great racing, just like Michigan. War Carl Edwards

08/30/2007 10:54 AM

Well I agree totally with David Poole. From what I watched I thought Saturday night’s race was well not the worst but close, race I had ever seen at Bristol. The bad thing is when you have a lower tiered division making more speeds than your High profile series. But hey I cannot comment anymore, i slept thru half the race…boring as usual come on Nascar get your head out of you

08/30/2007 11:14 AM

Hey Jeff,
You’ve been going to BMS since 2002 and you call that alot of racing (live)??? HA! David Poole has more experience and knowledge of NASCAR racing in his little toe than you will ever have, unless he were to die tomorrow and you live on for a very long time. I am not sure who is paying you for this waste of time pen to paper job you have done, but they should have there head examined. Maybe you should join the ‘wine & cheese’ crowd of new NASCAR fans and go to Cali-BORE-nia. I am sure you’ll fit in fine. have you read Mike Finney’s article about NASCAR sweeping the rest of the original fan base right out of the grandstands? I am sure (for some reason) you’ll disagree with him too.

Brian France Sucks
08/30/2007 11:23 AM

Great article. Too Carol, Joe Mama, and all the rest of the idiots… go to a demolition derby at your county fair. It is cheaper and will assuage your neanderthal expectations of what a good race or racing action should be. The Bristol repave was a success; and before everyone rants I’ve been to Bristol before the re-pave, it’s much better now. Remember that many great events in history are first met with derision and later are embraced and accepted; too bad the Labor Day Cali race will never be one of them, ha, ha! Maybe the France morons will hire David Poole to come work for them; he seems to have a racing acumen on par with the rest of I$C and NA$CAR. Long live the Southern 500!

J. Meyer
08/30/2007 11:38 AM

Listen folks,
Just because you have come to “expect” the old type of racing @ Bristol, that doesn’t mean it was good racing.

Yes, lots of crashes and bruised egos, but very little racing. Surviving Bristol was always more about luck than anything else.

Now it is about the racing. When you can watch those back in the field actually racing for say, 24th, 25th and 26th spot, it is truly awesome and refreshing.
TV simply does not show you that.

Don’t be fooled, there is still bumping and banging, just not the carnage that happens on a one groove race track.

And yeah, it is MY opinion, but David Poole did NOT hear hot sweaty fans leaving the track saying they didn’t like the race. That is just plain crap.

And for the record…I don’t get paid one thin dime by ANYONE to write for
David Poole may have alot more experience of covering races than I, but that don’t make him right. If you want to be lead blindly by the mainstream media, go right ahead. Hitler knew what he was doing and did it for a long time too, but that didn’t make it right.

Race Fan
08/30/2007 11:56 AM

David Poole was giving his opinion, just as you are giving yours. Unless you went around and polled EVERY single person who watched the race, and can say for a fact that the majority enjoyed the racing on the new surface, you have no more of a leg to stand on than David Poole does. And it does not seem very “professional” to turn your column into a personal attack on this guy.

That out of the way, I agree with you in as much that the racing on the new surface was better to watch. I loved the two and three wide runs and all of the passing. Sure, having two guys lead the majority of the laps took some of the excitement away, but that was a function of the 9 and the 99 hitting the setup compared to the rest of the field, and teams are still figuring out this whole COT deal.

William T.
08/30/2007 12:05 PM

I agree with Jeff. I have been going to live races since 1991 Daytona 500, and have gone to at least one race (more like 3) a year since. That was good racing!

J. Meyer
08/30/2007 12:30 PM

“But as the fans who came to see it were walking out late on a hot August night, they weren’t talking about all the great memories they’d just made. They weren’t talking about how incredible it was to see the kind of racing you don’t see anywhere else.”

Oh, so David Poole DID interview all those coming out of BMS?

I talked to more fans than he did. How do I know? I’m ONE of them. I live in the campground all week. I drink beer with them. I help them fix their campers when they need help. I grill and eat with them. I AM THEM. Fan first. VOLUNTEER WRITER second!

Annie Mack
08/30/2007 12:30 PM

Sorry Jeff, but when one or two drivers stink up the show and lead all the laps, that’s boring. I used to relate Michigan with boring but Saturday night came darn close to overturning that opinion. Wrecks are not why I eagerly await the Bristol races. It’s the fact that the drivers can actually manhandle the cars and each other and NOT wreck. I taped the race because I refuse to watch all the commercials. Sunday morning I did laundry while watching the Bristol race. It was a 1-1/2 load race. I didn’t even get to load the dryer twice before the dang race was over. The fastest, most boring Bristol race of my life. I get so sick of hearing about the ‘aero’ packages and Rusty Wallace and his blue/gold air demonstrations that the road courses start to look good! Does anyone else cringe when they do that stupid colored air demo repeatedly like we ride the short bus and have to be reminded ad nauseum what’s happening around the cars? So yes, I look forward to Bristol. Maybe I spent too much time filling the Downy dispenser and missed all that great racing. I’ll be more careful in the Spring and do my laundry the day before.

Joe Mama
08/30/2007 12:54 PM

To Brian France (above)… Whether anyone wants to admit it or not the reason Bristol is so popular is because fans love to see a driver make an ass out of himself when things don’t go his way. The Bristol race was still one of the best races of any compared to other races and tracks but compared to past Bristol races it wasn’t as wild. Let’s face it, the majority of people love watching a train wreck. it’s like two monkeys playing catch with a hand grenade, you just can’t stop watching.

To rjh (above) why would hoping for a wreckfest be in the interest of jeffy, jimmy and little e fans? They would be as apt to be wrecked as anyone else wouldn’t they? so hoping for wrecks has nothing to do with who you root for.

Steve M.
08/30/2007 01:18 PM

I have to agree, once again, with everyone else who is stating that the “televised” race was just plain and simple, BAD. The coverage by ESPN was terrible and made for some really boring NASCAR entertainment. As I’ve stated earlier this week; if you were lucky enough to actually attend the Bristol race, then I’m sure it was very exciting, but if you had to endure watching it on ESPN, well, it wasn’t the same. With the race in California this weekend, I’m afraid to even imagine what to expect. Who knows, maybe if I drink enough before the race then I’ll be able to create my own excitement; despite ESPN! As for you Joe Mama…I agree with everything you said!!

08/30/2007 01:20 PM

I was there Saturday night & haven’t missed a Bristol night race in well over 10 years. I go to Bristol for the racing but also for the entertainment. Bristol is/or was different from any other track on the circuit. Now they’ve made it like all the others IMO.
I too walked through the herds of fans making their way out of the track and into the surrounding campgrounds. I heard plenty of folks complain about the Cup race. You apparently just heard what you wanted to hear Jeff.

I also agree with Laidback Racing with this quote

The Busch race was the BEST race I have ever seen sitting in the bristol grandstands…the cup race was no where near as good. Blame it on the chase and the COT…the only difference between the 2 nights


Race Fan
08/30/2007 01:34 PM

To quote JMyer –

“Oh, so David Poole DID interview all those coming out of BMS?

I talked to more fans than he did. How do I know? I’m ONE of them. I live in the campground all week. I drink beer with them. I help them fix their campers when they need help. I grill and eat with them. I AM THEM. Fan first. VOLUNTEER WRITER second!”

You may have talked to more fans than David did, but at the end of the day you are both giving an OPINION. NEITHER of you can claim to speak for all fans as to how they truly felt about the race. That’s why he has his opinion, and you have yours. Which is fine and dandy until you use your website to attack the guy personally because you disagree with him.

08/30/2007 02:38 PM

Nas has it right…The big change between the two nights was the COT and the Chase..I think both of those factors had an effect on the race. That being said I didn’t think the race was that bad..what made it seem that bad would have been the coverage. Anne states that seeing two guys lead the race makes for a boring race which while I can see her point I supose what really enforces that perception is the fact that whoever has the TV coverage, (They all are about the same, Fox, ESPN, etc,), only focuses on the top cars..maybe the top 10. That is the issue..the race is covered for maybe 4 hours so you’d think that they could actually show other passes on the track verses a guy driving away lap after lap. I get annoyed when they show “Lets go through the positions..” as first they rarely make it through all 43 cars, and second they show them at whatever position they are in verses perhaps when they are actually passing someone, or some sort of action. If the blame is to be put on boring racing I’d start with the way its covered by the TV stations. I agree fully with Anne that actually covering the race verses showing me more “cut-out” car stuff, “loose/tight” and that awful aero-draft bit would be a good start. If indeed France/NASCAR wants to be like the stick/ball sports he should realize that “What is a home run?” is not descibed game after game in baseball..if at all…File that under the “Duh” folder…

08/30/2007 02:45 PM

Been to Bristol, although not this year! BUT! Poole is 100% correct!

It seems you are easily impressed with noise!

I on the other hand love racing! REAL RACING!

And the “new” Bristol is not it! Follow the leader, but that is exactly what most people now think is “good racing”!

Oh great! Instead of 43 cars going single file bumping for the lead, you now have 43 cars in different grooves, at times “dicing” for position??

This does not make racing!

It is entertainment, and only entertainment!

08/30/2007 03:19 PM

The new paving resulted in racing like it used to be at BMS in the old days, when it was paved with asphalt.

08/30/2007 03:20 PM

I was there too. I can imagine the broadcast wasn’t great because the race at the front wasn’t great. Not to mention, it’s NASCAR’s broadcast and, well, NASCAR has let ESPN/ABC/NBC/FOX/TBS create bad broadcasts for some time now.

The racing throughout the pack was awesome. My favorite aspect was how soon-to-be lapped cars could really give the leader a hard time. The Busch race on Friday was even better and at least a 9 out of 10.

Managing Editor
08/30/2007 03:30 PM

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A couple of different responses on this thread before I close it down…

First off, I have been lucky enough so far in life to view racing from three unique perspectives – right where David Poole sits (press), working on the actual TV broadcast itself, and sitting in the stands as a fan. All three offer uniquely different opportunities to view the product we all know and love – and each will lend itself to a special type of “insider info” you can’t get anywhere else. Whenever I do TV, I come back with a far different viewpoint compared to when I’m taking notes in the media center, press box, or on pit road. Of course, any of those options give you a much more far-reaching view of the actual race itself – as you’re not limited to Trackpass or watching the race on TV. You can actually see the whole track – see everything going on, and that offers you a greater ability to both analyze and reflect. As several of you have mentioned, that allows you to see a far different race than if you’re a slave to whoever TV wants to focus on over at FOX, TNT, or ESPN. Some of the best TV races can be the worst in person…and vice versa.

However, NONE of those types of “special access” offers you the exceptional opportunity to have direct contact with the “Average Joe” fan in the stands – while the race is going on. To do that, you have to actually sit WITH the fans…and that’s exactly what Jeff Meyer did. Yes, as a writer we use sources, message boards, fans email us – it’s not that David was lying about any of that because I’ve been there, done that just like the NASCAR writing legend. But what Jeff is offering here is perspective from his weekend trip as a fan, where he got to talk to several fans in a natural setting of watching the race in the stands. Truth be told, Jeff is not doing himself justice – he has covered several races for us as a member of the media, and has been writing for us for over four years – developing a style and level of expertise that doesn’t make him some random stranger. So, when Jeff says he talked to fans after the race – we’re not talking one or two here. We’re talking a journalist clothed as a fan, asking everyone he came in contact with over four days at the track what they thought of the new Bristol repaving job.

What has come out of that is an opinion – based on Jeff’s own analysis. David Poole has an opinion, too, and they’re both entitled under freedom of speech to disagree with each other. My opinion? It lies somewhere in between the two…but it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that this Bristol race has generated more fan opinions – positive or negative – than any race I’ve seen in quite sometime. In that sense, I feel Burton Smith has done a fantastic job – because after a few years of races dominated by one select driver (see : Matt Kenseth, 2005, 2006) he’s got fans yapping about Bristol all over again. It may not be about drivers throwing helmets…but Bristol is still the #1 topic amongst fans all over again, and it’s likely to stay that way for several weeks. That, in my view, is a sign that Bruton Smith has generated excitement and controversy here all over again – for every fan that’s disinterested in the new track, there’s another one ready to argue to death that this is the best thing that ever happened to this half-mile bullring.

Some are concerned about what they construe to be a personal attack on David Poole. Here at the Frontstretch, we back the content of our writers and take advantage of our resources as an independent media outlet to go further than your typical article. The great thing about FS is you’ve got an amazing mix of professional writers, semi-professionals doing this as a hobby, and fans with a voice – all of whom are given the right to say what they want, without the fear of being told to “shut up.” Under the laws of Freedom of Speech, Jeff and David are allowed to disagree…it happens all the time. If the president can be criticized, so too can any member of the professional media – me, Matt Taliaferro, Becca Gladden, David Poole, or anyone who goes to the race tracks each weekend to do this for a living. That’s both the blessing and the curse to write in a public setting – everyone has the ability to openly criticize anything and everything we say.

I’ve decided to lock this thread from future comments. Any specific concerns from anyone, feel free to address them at I’d be happy to answer any comment or question you may have. Jeff’s email, for those who would like to continue this discourse, is

Thanks for reading the Frontstretch, and making your feelings known.

Tom Bowles
Managing Editor


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
Top Ten Reasons Fans Failed To Show Up At Bristol Sunday
BSNews! NASCAR CEO Given "Special" Award Amidst Lavish Fanfare
Fan Coun-ci-What? Just What Is It That NASCAR Wants To Study?

Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.