Visionary and Motorsports Pioneer, Bruton Smith, Passes Away at 95

June 22, 2022
CONCORD, NC - JANUARY 21: ZMax Dragway owner Bruton Smith speaks to the media during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at the ZMax Dragway on January 21, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

DARLINGTON, S.C. (June 22, 2022) – Bruton Smith, one of the most iconic and memorable figures in motor sports, died Wednesday, Speedway Motorsports has announced. 

Smith was 95. He was a NASCAR Hall of Fame member (2016) and a member of the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame (2006). 

Smith founded Speedway Motorsports, which operates 11 racing facilities. Along with Curtis Turner, Smith built Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1959, and the track became the first facility to hold races under the lights. 

Remembering Bruton Smith 05
Charlotte Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith. (Photo by ISC Archives via Getty Images)

A visionary, Smith worked to make sure his facilities were some of the most modern and innovative in the country. Condominiums were built at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, while Smith also had massive HDTV screens installed on the backstretches of Texas and Charlotte. AT Bristol, the Colossus TV hangs above the track. 

“His mind is racing all the time; he’s done so much for the sport,” Rick Hendrick told in 2016. “He’s so brave to step out and try things that have never been tried before. He helped build this sport.”

But in addition to his passion and support of racing and businesses like Speedway Motorsports, Sonic Automotive and EchoPark Automotive, Smith cared about the community. In 1982, he founded Speedway Children’s Charities, which has distributed more than $61 million to local organizations. 

Smith is survived by sons Scott, Marcus and David; daughter Anna Lisa; their mother Bonnie Smith; and seven grandchildren.

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