The creator of Speedway Motorsports, 2016 induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and native of Oakboro, North Carolina, was a legend in the industry. In 2015, he overcame non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Bruton Smith passed away at age 95 on Wednesday
His son Marcus Smith is the CEO and president of Speedway Motorsports.
The list of Bruton Smith’s accomplishments is as long as the Coca-Cola 600, an annual event hosted at Charlotte Motor Speedway that he and fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Curtis Turner contributed to the construction of in 1959.
Smith was born into poverty during the Great Depression as the youngest of nine children. He participated in the Korean War for two years as a paratrooper. He would eventually create an empire.
Smith’s business expanded to include 11 racetracks that now feature 15 NASCAR Cup Series competitions.
Plus In 1995, Speedway Motorsports became the first motorsports corporation to go public. These days, Speedway Motorsports also owns and runs zMAX Micro Lubricants, SMI Properties, U.S. Legend Cars International, and Performance Racing Network.
Inducted in 2006, he is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame.
In many respects, Charlotte Motor Speedway set the bar. 34 of the 38 All-Star races were held at the track when Smith installed lights in 1992 to enable night races. A 16,000 square foot HDTV was built to the track in 2011, offering fans a better view. It was also the first track to have one.
Smith was a philanthropist outside of the racetrack. He founded Speedway Children’s Charities in 1982, which gave more than $61 million to regional groups.
What they’re saying: According to NASCAR chairman and COE Jim France, “race fans are, and always will be, the lifeblood of NASCAR.” “Bruton Smith was the best at understanding this.
Giving racegoers memories they would treasure for a lifetime was the simple principle Bruton used while constructing his racetracks.
NASCAR Hall of Fame released a statement saying, “NASCAR has lost one of its real pioneers, visionaries, and inventors.”
“Bruton’s legacy and amazing achievements to NASCAR will always live on in our memories, our archives, and at the cathedrals of speed he constructed and honored at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.”
Bruton Smith leaves behind his daughter Anna Lisa, sons Scott and David, mother Bonnie Smith, and seven grandchildren in addition to his son Marcus.