SMI founder O. Bruton Smith elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame
The following is a statement from Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Executive Chairman O. Bruton Smith regarding Wednesday's announcement that he will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016:
"When I found out that I was nominated, I realized how much this meant to my family and the 15,000 employees that work for my companies. Now I realize how much it means to me. It will truly be an honor to be remembered at the Hall of Fame along with people like Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Glen Wood, Junior Johnson, Darrell Waltrip and so many others who helped build this sport. That's what I've tried to do my entire life. I'm a frustrated builder who had a knack for promoting races, and it's been fun to always try to push the sport to greater heights for the fans. From the first World 600, I've always wanted the fans to leave with something spectacular to remember about their experience. Even if they don't remember who won the race, I want them to remember the pre-race show and having the time of their lives. I want fans to know we're always working to build the best facilities for them and that's who I really owe this recognition to. The millions of fans who've attended our race tracks all of these years are the ones who really deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. They've built the sport right along with us, and I want to sincerely say thank you to them and the voting committee."
Smith is considered the preeminent speedway promoter and entrepreneur who revolutionized motorsports entertainment over the course of seven decades. Smith's first major speedway endeavor began when he partnered with racing star Curtis Turner to open Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., in 1960 and held the first World 600 that year.
His racing empire of motorsports facilities has grown immensely under Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (SMI), which currently owns and operates Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.
The speedway group plays host to 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, 11 NASCAR XFINITY and eight Camping World Truck Series races and other high-profile motorsports events.
Smith took Speedway Motorsports public in 1995 and in the process became the first motorsports company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. He also was the first in the sport to transform speedways into modern, first-class sports venues, which included the additions of condominiums, private clubs and a proliferation of luxury suites.
He also founded Speedway Children's Charities in 1984 for the betterment of children and the result has been donations of more than $42 million over the years to charities across the country.
Smith has also been inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (2007), National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame (2006) and Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame (2008).