NASCAR fans are not, as a whole, noted for their elevated views on race relations, but the richest owner on the circuit is putting even his most sunburned, Busch-swigging fan to shame.
Bruton Smith, a billionaire with a strong and unfortunate resemblance to Don Rickles, is demanding that NASCAR end its tradition of finishing the season in Homestead because no one should race cars in a region he calls "north Cuba." We're all very sorry that the Miami area doesn't have enough white people for your taste, Bruton.
Smith is the CEO and owner of Speedway Motorsports, a Charlotte-based company that manages racetracks around the country. Smith has made a tidy fortune out of the business -- $1.5 billion, according to Forbes.
But he doesn't own Homestead-Miami Speedway, the track where NASCAR ends its cup series every year. Instead, he'd like to see the year-end race in either Atlanta or Las Vegas -- two cities where his company owns tracks.
In making that self-serving argument this weekend, Smith let slip he isn't so fond of all the Hispanic types in Miami ruining racing for good Americans."If you're going to do a championship, you've got to do it at the proper place, and I don't think north Cuba is the proper place," Smith said.
The next day, reporters gave him a chance to back off the comments. The billionaire didn't bite.
"I was just speaking the truth," he said. "I was actually complimenting them. It was actually based on location, so I was just kind of being kind to the location. That's what it was."
Um, OK. Thanks for the compliment, Bruton. We are, in fact, quite proud of our Cuban connection in the Magic City, but sneering comparisons to being an annex of the land of Fidel are not the best way to win fans. Just for future reference.
Tim Elfrink is an award-winning investigative reporter, the managing editor of the Miami New Times and the co-author of "Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez and the Quest to End Baseball's Steroid Era." Since 2008, he's written in-depth pieces on police corruption, fatal shootings and social justice issues across South Florida. He's won the George Polk Award and has been a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.