|Eddie Gossage and Bruton Smith on the Texas Motor Speedway Media Center Set|
Photo Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
Smith started the National Stock Car Racing Association (NSCRA) in 1949 to go head-to-head with the recently formed NASCAR. Circumstances prevented that organization from growing or merging with NASCAR but in many ways the die was set to pit Smith's group against the France family and their International Speedway Corporation. ISC opened Daytona International Speedway in 1959 while Smith's SCI broke ground for Charlotte Motor Speedway, which opened in 1960 as the first of the eight tracks held by the company.
Smith took SCI public in 1995 making it the first publicly traded motorsports company. This company also owns PRN Radio.
The 86-year-old Smith walked carefully in the media center, at times holding onto his protege TMS president Eddie Gossage for balance. He spoke rather carefully for Smith, too, when answering questions about his nomination and the controversial NRA sponsorship of Saturday night's Sprint Cup race.
When asked if he'd had a change of heart about the importance of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Smith said, "I didn't realize it meant so much to so many people. I have about 15,000 employees, I didn't realize it meant so much to them." But he wasn't mad about having not been nominated sooner despite being one of the trailblazers of the sport. Smith said, "I would not let it bother me one way or the other. In fact some of it I found rather comical."
So why did it take so long for such a pivotal person in the history of the sport to be nominated?
"I don't think it's a mystery," said the usually outspoken Smith. "think everybody in this room would have an answer for you. I'm not going to answer it for you. I would like to thank everyone in this room, I know you had a huge input."
Though his name was just added to the ballot for the 2014 HOF class this week, Smith's already a member of the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame and National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame, both in 2006; and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Smith said if he's inducted "We'll just go on down the road and continue to build this great sport that I love so much."
Janine, aka Lisa or LJ, Cloud, a fifth-generation Texan, lives in Houston and considers Texas Motor Speedway her home track.
She's been a part of the Skirts and Scuffs team since May 2011, going from contributor to media rep, photographer, and associate editor covering both NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar. Janine considers it a privilege to represent the site at the track and to share with readers the excitement of the world of motorsports.