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Friday, July 1, 2022

Speedway Motorsports founder Bruton Smith dies at 95

CHARLOTT, NC ( Associated Press) — O. Bruton Smith, who hailed from rural North Carolina and used his love of motorsport to become a NASCAR Hall of Famer and one of its most eccentric and successful promoters, died Wednesday. He was 95.

His death was announced by Speedway Motorsports LLC, the company formed when he merged his businesses in 1994. Three months later, Smith made it the first public motorsports company to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Speedway Motorsports reported that Smith died of natural causes.

His son Marcus, current president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, posted a tribute to his father on social media on Tuesday. “I had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend. I am so grateful that I am a father and that I have a wonderful dad.” The post was accompanied by two photographs of Smith, both surrounded by his family.

Allen Bruton Smith was born on March 2, 1927 on a farm in Oakborough, the youngest of nine children. He watched his first race at age 8 and bought his first race car at age 17 for $700.

“The whole idea at the time was that I was going to be a racing driver. I learned to drive, but that career didn’t last long,” Smith said of his early start.

After being talked out of racing by his mother, Smith instead became an entrepreneur and organized his first race at 18. He also served as a paratrooper in the US during the Korean War when he was in his early 20s.

But his love lay in promotion and he founded Speedway Motorsports, a company that currently owns 11 properties in the United States. The circuits host NASCAR, IndyCar and other series in Atlanta, Bristol, Tennessee, Charlotte, Las Vegas, New Hampshire, Sonoma, California, Texas, Dover, Delaware, Nashville, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina and Kentucky.

NASCAR races this weekend are taking place at the Nashville Superspeedway, which was bought by Speedway Motorsports late last year.

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More Associated Press auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.

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