Although NASCAR made no official response to Kyle Busch’s embarrassing guitar-bashing antics following his June 6 victory at Nashville Superspeedway, it did take notice.
“Mike Helton (NASCAR president) came up to me a few weeks later and said he appreciated how I handled it,” said Sam Bass, the renowned racing artist who painted the Gibson guitar that for nine years has been the track’s trademark trophy.
“I imagine there was some communication between NASCAR and Kyle that we don’t know about.”
At a Thursday press conference to promote Saturday’s Toyota Tundra 200 truck race, Bass was asked if he felt that NASCAR should have issued some sort of public response to the ugly incident. Bass smiled and said no.
“Kyle came over after he did it and said he meant no disrespect and I have to take him at his word,” Bass said. “He’s a talented driver and I wish him well. Life goes on.”
At the press conference, held at the County Music Hall of Fame, the new trophy guitar was unveiled. Gibson Guitar president Dave Berryman said the guitar is valued at $1,700 but with the Bass artwork is “priceless.”
Although Busch promised to buy more Gibson guitars to replace the one he demolished in his “rock star-style” celebration, Berryman said to his knowledge none have been ordered.
Bass, who spends an estimated 150-160 hours painting each trophy guitar, said it “broke my heart” to see Busch repeatedly slam it to the pavement. Video of the incident went worldwide, as well as nationwide, on various Web, and Bass said he was “overwhelmed” by the response.
“I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me since then to tell say were sorry about what happened,” he said. “It makes me feel good to know they care.”
Truck racer David Starr, fifth in the point standings, termed Busch’s behavior “disgraceful” adding that Busch’s bash “was disrespectful to Sam, to the Speedway, to our sport and to the fans.
“Kyle made a mistake and he should have apologized for it. I never heard any of that. That’s why people look at him the way they do,” Starr said.
As part of the press conference, Bass was announced the race’s grand marshal.
“I haven’t been so shocked since Kyle broke that guitar,” Bass quipped.
Retired Titans star Frank Wycheck will serve as honorary starter and wave the green flag for the 7 p.m. start on Saturday