Smashed Guitar Strikes Sour Chord In Music City
By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Nashville – Images of Kyle Busch’s guitar-smashing antics following last Saturday’s victory at Nashville Superspeedway have gone ‘round the world, creating a sensation on YouTube and other internet outlets.
Meanwhile on Monday, Nashville Superspeedway vice president/general manager Cliff Hawks said, “It’s still hard for me to watch.”
Renowned racing artist Sam Bass, who spent countless hours hand-painting the $2,000 Gibson guitar that for nine years has been the track’s trademark trophy, had this to say Sunday night on Nashville’s WSM radio: “I wonder how Kyle would like it if I took a hammer and smashed his race car?”
Bass said he was “totally shocked and stunned” as he watched Busch repeatedly dash the guitar to the pavement in Victory Lane.
“I was so shocked that I just stood there,” said Bass of the incident that has the racing world buzzing. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was heart-broken.”
Hawks shared his disbelief.
“When Kyle drew back the guitar like he was going to slam it down, the thought flashed through my mind: ‘No, surely he’s not going to do it!’ And then he did it. I stood there in total disbelief. It was very upsetting.”
Busch admitted it was a contrived incident. He had told his crew beforehand that if he won the race he was going to smash the guitar “rock-star style,” and divide the pieces among the team members.
The Federated Auto Parts race sponsors were not amused.
“They were really put off and I don’t blame them,” Hawks said. “It’s a big deal for the sponsor to make the Victory Lane presentations. It left a bad feeling.”
Hawks said the ugly incident should not tarnish the track in any way.
“We had absolutely nothing to do with it – I was as shocked and disappointed as everybody else,” he said. “This is all on Kyle.”
Hawks said Busch has not apologized to him or the track for the incident.
Bass said he was given a lame apology and later posed for a photo with Busch and what was left of the shattered instrument. But while Bass smiled for the photo, he was seething inside.
“Let’s just say I wasn’t happy,” Bass said.
“Kyle told me he meant no disrespect,” Bass said, “and I guess I have to take him at his word. I guess he didn’t realize how bad it looked and how upset everybody would be.”
Busch said he would buy two guitars to replace the one he destroyed and even joked about how Bass would make more money by painting more guitars.
“I don’t think he gets it,” Bass said. “He destroyed something that can’t be replaced. He can buy a replica but he can’t replace the original.”
It was noted that if Busch won the Daytona 500 or any other big-league Sprint Cup race he wouldn’t dare dash the trophy to bits in a “rock star” celebration – yet he showed no qualms in destroying a trophy in the second-tier Nationwide Series.
So far NASCAR has not commented on the incident that has added to Busch’s bad-boy reputation.
Bass said the incident will have no adverse effect on his long-standing relationship with the Superspeedway and that he will continue to paint the track’s trophy guitars – named by Sports Illustrated as one of sport’s most unique trophies.
“It wasn’t anybody’s fault except Kyle’s,” Bass said. “He’s the only one who has anything to apologize for.”