By AMANDA VINCENT
Legendary NASCAR track owner and promoter Ollen Bruton Smith passed away from natural causes June 22, 2022, at the age of 95.
“Race fans are, and always will be, the lifeblood of NASCAR. Few knew this truth better than Bruton Smith,” a statement from NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France read. “Bruton built his race tracks employing a simple philosophy: give race fans memories they will cherish for a lifetime. 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.”
After working as a ahort-track promoter, Smith was the founder of Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in 1960. Additional track holdings eventually became Speedway Motorsports Inc., also the parent company of tracks including Altanta Motor Speedway, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway among others; Performance Racing Network; Speedway Children’s Charities and US Legends Cars. SMI became the first motorsports company to trade on the New York Stock Exchange in 1995.
Smith was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016.
“NASCAR has lost one of its true pioneers, visionaries and innovators,” a statement from NASCAR Hall Executive Director Winston Kelley read. “Bruton’s legacy and incredible accomplishments in and contributions to NASCAR will forever remain in our minds, our archives, at the cathedrals of speed he built and celebrated at the NASCAR Hall of Fame forever.”
Smith’s Sonic Automotive Group also ranks among the largest auto dealerships in the US.
Smith is survived by four children, Scott, Marcus, David and Anna Lisa; and seven grandchildren.