The following is a statement from Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board O. Bruton Smith regarding Wednesday's announcement that he was one of five newcomers among the 25 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2014:
"It is a great honor to be nominated as a candidate for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Bill France Jr. once asked me to help him build NASCAR and I have literally been building monuments to the sport for my entire lifetime. Millions of people have attended NASCAR events at our speedways over the years and we've tried to be creative and innovative in an effort to help push the sport to a higher level. It's always been a perfect fit for me because I love racing and I love NASCAR fans."
New Hampshire Motor Speedway is one of eight speedways owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports, Inc. all which are under the leadership of Smith. NHMS Executive Vice President/General Manager Jerry Gappens said of the nomination:
“In recognizing a person who has done so much to help build the sport of NASCAR and help move it forward for over five decades, I can’t think of a more appropriate nomination than Bruton. Through his vision of providing world-class facilities for our fans, competitors and corporate partners, he has invested more than $4 billion in the sport’s infrastructure. His innovations include taking the sport to Wall Street; lighting a superspeedway for night-time racing; building trackside condominiums; the first to provide VIP suites to attract corporate partners; building lavish, country club-style speedway clubs at several of his facilities; elaborate pre-race shows; and, several fans-first amenities, such as luxury seating and first-class restroom/shower facilities.
“Even today, he still brings a passion, sense of urgency and a drive to succeed that serves as a wonderful example for all of his managers and employees.”
Background: 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., 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 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, 17 NASCAR Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series races, and other high-profile motorsports events.
Smith took SMI 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 in the tens of millions over the years.
Smith has 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).