NASCAR CEO Reacts to Death of Legendary Hall of Fame Member

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Owner and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc. Bruton Smith has died at the age of 95, Charlotte Motor Speedway confirmed in a tweet on Wednesday.

Smith, who was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016, will have an unforgettable impact on the racing world for years to come.

On Thursday, NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France released a statement on Smith’s passing:

“Racing fans have been and always will be the lifeblood of NASCAR. Few people knew this truth better than Bruton Smith. Bruton built his race tracks guided by a simple philosophy: give racing fans memories that they will cherish all their lives. At the same time, Bruton contributed to the growth of the popularity of NASCAR as an outstanding spectator sport. His vision and legacy inspired many, and his fan mentality persists today thanks to his son Marcus. On behalf of the France family and all of NASCAR, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Bruton Smith, the giant of our sport.”

In 1959 , Smith bought Charlotte Motor Speedway for $1.5 million. In 1994, he founded Speedway Motorsports Inc., a company that now owns 11 race tracks.

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In 1997, Smith founded Sonic Automotive, one of the nation’s largest car retailers. The children’s charity Speedway, founded by Smith in 1982, has distributed more than $61 million to local organizations across the country to help children in need.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame also released a touching statement in Smith’s honor.