On Wednesday, NASCAR Hall of Famer and Speedway Motorsports founder Bruton Smith passed away at the age of 95.
A wave of tributes from across the NASCAR and motorsports world poured out for Smith, the man who built Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1960 and went on to create a motorsports empire that eventually included ownership off 11 tracks and earned him an induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016.
Here’s a collection of some of the notable tributes to Smith.
Jim France, CEO and Chairman of NASCAR
“Race fans are, and always will be, the lifeblood of NASCAR. Few knew this truth better than Bruton Smith. Bruton built his race tracks employing a simple philosophy: give race fans memories they will cherish for a lifetime. In doing so, Bruton helped grow NASCAR’s popularity as the preeminent spectator sport. His vision and legacy inspired many, and his fan-first mentality remains today through his son Marcus. On behalf of the France family and all of NASCAR, I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Bruton Smith, a giant of our sport.”
Winston Kelley, NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director
“First and foremost, on behalf of the NASCAR Hall of Fame team, I want to offer our most sincere condolences to Bruton’s sons Scott, Marcus, David and daughter Anna Lisa, the entire Smith family and everyone at Speedway Motorsports on the passing of Bruton Smith.
“From promoting his first race prior to turning 18 to becoming one of the most successful businessmen in all of motorsports O. Bruton Smith did as much as any single person in creating the standard for the modern racetrack. In 1959, he led the effort to design and build Charlotte Motor Speedway working alongside fellow Hall of Famer Curtis Turner. The track became the flagship of Smith’s company, Speedway Motorsports, which through his vision of taking SMI public in 1995 has grown to operate tracks across the country.
“Smith has always sought to focus on the fans and competitors and how he could make things better from their perspectives. His tracks were the first to add lights to a superspeedway and add innovative amenities such as officer towers, condominiums and high-end restaurants — all ushering in a new era of tracks.
“His philanthropic foundation, Speedway Children’s Charities, has contributed millions of dollars across the SMI footprint for children’s related causes.
“NASCAR has lost one of its true pioneers, visionaries and innovators. Bruton’s legacy and incredible accomplishments in and contributions to NASCAR will forever remain in our minds, our archives, at the cathedrals of speed he built and celebrated at the NASCAR Hall of Fame forever.”
Richard Petty, Seven-time Cup champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer
“With heavy hearts, we join the NASCAR community in mourning the passing of Bruton Smith. I remember first meeting Bruton in the 50’s at a dirt race where dad was racing and Bruton was the promoter at the time. Since then, Bruton became so much more than a track owner and promoter. He was a pioneer of our sport and instrumental in building it to what it is today. His vision and passion to make the sport better was seen and felt across many decades and generations of fans. From racetracks to Speedway Children’s Charities, Bruton touched the lives of so many and impacted the lives of everyone he met. Our hearts are with the Smith family during this difficult time.”
Rick Hendrick, 24-time Cup race winning team owner at Charlotte Motor Speedway
“A pioneer, a visionary and a true original. Never afraid to take a chance, Bruton will go down as one of the greatest promotors and innovators in the history of motor sports. I have tremendous admiration for the legacy he carved out in both racing and the car business. Even though we occasionally competed, I was always happy to call Bruton a friend. He was someone you wanted on your side because he was tough as nails and never backed down from a fight. At the same time, Bruton was incredibly generous and dedicated much of his life to giving back. The impact of Speedway Children’s Charities and his countless acts of kindness cannot possibly be measured.
“Bruton and I both grew up on farms, and we shared a passion for racing and for the car business. In 1983, I held a press conference at City Chevrolet (in Charlotte, North Carolina) to announce a new NASCAR team that would become Hendrick Motorsports. He was there that day, and his support was something I never took for granted. Although most knew him as a savvy and successful businessman, I will remember Bruton first and foremost as a father, a family man and a dear friend. He was so proud of his children, and our families have always been close. On behalf of Linda (Hendrick), our family and our entire organization, I offer my deepest sympathies to the Smith family and the many, many people who loved and respected Bruton.”
Roger Penske, NASCAR Hall of Famer and 5-time Cup race winning owner at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Statement from Roger Penske on the passing of Bruton Smith: pic.twitter.com/QaQgWCRVCp— Team Penske (@Team_Penske) June 23, 2022
Kyle Petty, 1987 Coca-Cola 600 winner
There have been many great men in this sport but very few visionaries. Today we lost one of the greatest visionaries that racing ever had. Bruton’s impact on the sport will continue to be felt for decades to come. Today my heart is sad for the entire Smith family. Godspeed… pic.twitter.com/qlbKSweOS0— Kyle Petty (@kylepetty) June 22, 2022
Tony Stewart, NASCAR Hall of Famer and Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner
Bruton Smith was a pioneer who helped make motorsports mainstream and allowed guys like me to make a living doing what we love. He helped grow not just NASCAR, but all kinds of racing. He had his hands in all of it, and even though he’s gone, his fingerprints remain. https://t.co/wsbrQMo7UM— Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) June 22, 2022
Wood Brothers Racing
We’re thinking about the Smith family tonight. Our dad/grandpa Glenn always said Bruton Smith made everyone better. pic.twitter.com/XZ3dXrd4iQ— Wood Brothers Racing (@woodbrothers21) June 22, 2022
Joe Gibbs, NASCAR Hall of Famer and 8-time Cup race winning team owner at Charlotte Motor Speedway
A statement from Joe Gibbs on the passing of Bruton Smith: pic.twitter.com/2GcjwqnIca— Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) June 22, 2022
Mario Andretti, IndyCar legend
My sincere condolences to the Smith family for their loss. Rest in peace, Bruton. https://t.co/5gBQ7VEvms— Mario Andretti (@MarioAndretti) June 22, 2022
NHRA offers its heartfelt condolences following the passing of Bruton Smith. Bruton was an incredible visionary who had an amazing commitment to drag racing, helping advance the sport and working diligently to bring new fans to the NHRA.— NHRA (@NHRA) June 22, 2022
More: https://t.co/SOXC70ZZpw pic.twitter.com/Qw4PN5PSQ5
John Force, NHRA Funny Car legend
I'm really sad to hear about the passing of Bruton Smith. He was a personal friend. Everyone knows what he's done for motorsports, @NHRA & @NASCAR. He was like a 2nd father to me, I met him when he opened Bristol. I sure loved him. I'm going to miss him. His legacy will live on. pic.twitter.com/6Zuhiqnx69— John Force (@JohnForce_FC) June 22, 2022