NASCAR community reacts to the passing of the legendary track owner
Bruton Smith was the founder of Speedway Motorsports. The company went on to operate about half the tracks on the NASCAR schedule.
SMI announced his passing on Wednesday. He was 95.
SMI Tracks: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dover Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.
He grew up on a farm. However, he soon learned he wanted to leave the farm in the past.
In 1959, Smith helped build the Charlotte Motor Speedway. He later acquired full ownership of the track and began building his empire.
The company became the first track holdings company to reach the New York Stock Exchange.
In 2015, the family noted that Smith had been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, he came out of it cancer free.
In recent years, Marcus Smith has taken the lead of SMI. The company has since gone private as Speedway Motorsports, LLC.
NASCAR released the following statement:
“Race fans are, and always will be, the lifeblood of NASCAR. Few knew this truth better than Bruton Smith. Bruton built his race tracks employing a simple philosophy: give race fans memories they will cherish for a lifetime,” Jim France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO stated.
“In doing so, Bruton helped grow NASCAR’s popularity as the preeminent spectator sport. His vision and legacy inspired many, and his fan-first mentality remains today through his son Marcus.”
“On behalf of the France family and all of NASCAR, I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Bruton Smith, a giant of our sport.”
NASCAR community reacts
Dale Jr: Bruton’s contribution to stock car racing is hard to measure. His ambitious vision created growth and opportunities that I am forever thankful for. My heart is with the Smith family.”
Darrell Waltrip: “I’m heart broken this afternoon my good friend Bruton Smith passed away, he helped me in so many ways, he was an icon in the sport he loved, RIP my dear friend!”
Brad Keselowski: “Always kind to me. Made huge bets on growing the sport. He will be missed.”
Eddie Gossage: “I’ve met American Presidents and scholars. Astronauts and artists. World famous musicians and athletes. But the greatest man I ever met was Bruton Smith. For whatever reason, he saw something in me, blessed me with the opportunity to join him in building one of the largest stadiums in the world. We had so much fun working together. He always treated me like an equal as he taught me lessons about business & life.”
John Force: “I’m really sad to hear about the passing of Bruton Smith. He was a personal friend. Everyone knows what he’s done for motorsports, NHRA & NASCAR. He was like a 2nd father to me, I met him when he opened Bristol. I sure loved him. I’m going to miss him. His legacy will live on.”