|credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Jonathan Ferrey|
O. Bruton Smith has been promoting races since the age of 18 – now that passion has led him into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Smith and fellow 2016 inductees Jerry Cook, Curtis Turner, Terry Labonte and Bobby Isaac will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Here are the Fast Facts on the owner/CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc.
- Ollen Bruton Smith was born March 3, 1927 in Oakboro, NC. Smith purchased his first race car at age 17, and began promoting races as an 18-year-old. His racing career was short-lived due to his mother’s request that he stop driving.
- Smith worked with the National Stock Car Racing Association (NSCRA) in 1949, a group that was in direct competition with another organization known as NASCAR. Smith and Bill France Sr. began discussing a merger between the two groups in 1950, but Smith was drafted into the U.S. Army to fight in the Korean War early in 1951; when he returned from duty, he found that the NSCRA had dissolved.
- In 1954, Smith began promoting races at the Charlotte Fairgrounds, but promoting wasn’t enough for Smith. He built Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1959 – with fellow Class of 2016 inductee Curtis Turner working in promotion – but went bankrupt two years later and the track was reorganized under Chapter 10 of the Bankruptcy Act. Over the following years, Smith purchased stock shares in the track and regained control of the 1.5-mile track in the early 1970s. Smith added seats, suites and condos to Charlotte Motor Speedway over the years, making it one of the most state-of-the-art tracks in NASCAR.
- Smith later founded Speedway Motorsports Inc., the first motorsports company traded on the New York Stock Exchange. SMI’s current roster includes Charlotte, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. Smith also owns zMAX Dragway, the only all-concrete four-lane drag strip in the United States, and The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway; both are part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway complex.
- Smith founded Speedway Children’s Charities in 1982, and was a part-owner of the Kannapolis Intimidators minor league baseball team from 2000-2004.
- Smith was inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame and National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 2006, and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.
- Learn more about the NASCAR Hall of Fame at www.nascarhall.com.