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Bruton Smith puts on show for media tour

CONCORD, N.C. -- Give Bruton Smith a microphone, put him on a podium, ask a few questions.

The result? Guaranteed entertainment. Some of it funny, some of it odd and some of it in need of the PC police.

Whenever the Speedway Motorsports Inc. mogul gets rolling on various topics about racing, or anything else for that matter, it's always worth listening.

Being politically correct doesn't enter the equation. Smith let his opinions fly during a chat with reporters on the Nextel Cup media tour on Thursday. A few examples:

  • He wants NASCAR to move the Cup awards banquet from New York to Las Vegas.

  • He wants even more points for winning than the new format allows.

  • He wants NASCAR to let drivers be themselves, even if it means a little pushing, shoving and cussing after a race.

  • He won't build a track in Europe because the road racing fans there need a "mental enema."

Smith's biggest soap-box issue for the moment is the season-ending banquet. He said the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Bureau desperately wants the event. He recently presented a proposal to NASCAR chairman Brian France.

"He had a favorable response,'' Smith said. "We aren't there yet, but I think we're getting there. I think we'll have the pleasure of going to Las Vegas [for the banquet] soon."

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which underwent a $100 million renovation project in the offseason, is one of six major speedways owned by Smith. He still wants a second Cup date for Vegas every year, but he's working on the awards banquet move for now.

"We have all the reasons in the world to go there," Smith said. "For one thing, we wouldn't have to worry about ice and snow. And it isn't as expensive as New York. I took six people to dinner [during the 2006 banquet week] and when I got the bill, I thought it was my phone number."

Smith also isn't satisfied with the additional five points NASCAR is adding for each race winner this season. NASCAR also will seed the Chase contenders by victories in the first 26 races.

"I wanted more points for winning," he said. "Winning has to be the most important thing. We have to emphasize winning over points. I'm sick and tired of a driver getting out of the car and saying how pleased he is to finish fourth. Pleased? He's the third loser."

Smith believes NASCAR could fix the flat TV ratings and lower attendance from last year if more money was paid to winning drivers.

"We need to pay big money for winning and stop paying drivers $60,000 for finishing 43rd," he said. "If we give a driver $1 million for every race he wins, I guarantee you it will be more important."

Smith also thinks NASCAR has gotten too strict with its penalties for inappropriate conduct.

"Look at what built this sport," Smith said. "Don't sanitize everything. We used to have some pretty good events after the race was over. Now if you shove somebody, it's a $10,000 fine. And let them say what they want without taking points away."

Smith, who doesn't reveal his exact age but is somewhere around 80, has a story to tell without almost every question. A German reporter with a bit of an accent asked him if he would consider building a track in Europe.

"Can someone translate what he said for me?" Smith asked.

When told the question, Smith asked the reporter where he was from. The man was from Frankfurt.

"Oh, I've been there," Smith said. "Not when the bombing was going on, but I've been there."

Smith said he was offered $165 million to build an oval track near Berlin, but decided against it.

"You have a road-racing mentality over there," he said. "Before you build a track, they would need a mental enema to get over that."

A Montreal reporter asked Smith if he would consider building a track in Canada.

"We're constantly approached about that, but you have to consider the weather," Smith said. "It's why you can't build a track in Houston. I have a lot of businesses there and I'm a deputy sheriff there. But it rains down there whenever it wants to."

It's the world according to Bruton, and it's always a show.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.