The motorsports world has lost a pioneer and visionary. Speedway Motorsports announced Wednesday (June 22) that its chairman and founder Bruton Smith died of natural causes at age 95, per a company release.
Born just before the Great Depression hit, Bruton Smith saw the value of hard work early in life and treasured that value throughout.
Smith first partnered with Curtis Turner in 1959 to build Charlotte Motor Speedway, which opened in June of 1960 with the first running of what is now the Coca-Cola 600. Over the decades to follow, he would buy and complete tracks in Bristol, Tennessee, Atlanta, Las Vegas, New Hampshire, Texas, Sonoma, Dover, Nashville, Kentucky and North Wilkesboro.
He consolidated his motorsports holdings in 1994 and took SMI public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1995, becoming the first motorsports company to trade on the legendary stock exchange.
SMI also owns and operates properties such as Performance Racing Network, US Legend Cars International and zMax Micro Lubricants, holder of naming rights for the dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Under Smith’s guidance and leadership, his charity — Speedway Children’s Charities — has distributed more than $61 million to organizations across the country to help children in need.
He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007 and the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016 for his many achievements in motorsports.
Smith’s three sons — Scott, Marcus and David — appear set to take over the company. He is also survived by his daughter Anna Lisa, their mother Bonnie and seven grandchildren.
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