Speedway Motorsports Founder Bruton Smith Among Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame Inductees
CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 10, 2004) - Bruton Smith, founder and chairman of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. is among four area sports legends selected for induction into the Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame.
Smith joins basketball legends Bobby Jones and David Thompson along with the late Hoyt Wilhelm, an extremely durable and effective baseball relief pitcher, in the hall of fame's class of 2005.
Smith grew up on a modest farm near Oakboro, N.C., and parlayed his love for building things into a business empire, focusing on the motorsports and automotive industries.
After promoting stock car races at numerous area short tracks, Smith spearheaded the construction of Lowe's Motor Speedway and the inaugural Coca-Cola 600 was run in June of 1960. In 1995, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. became the first auto racing company to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Today, SMI owns and operates six premier motorsports facilities along with numerous related businesses.
"This is quite an honor and I appreciate the selection committee including me," said Smith. "I am proud of what we have accomplished in establishing the Charlotte region as the epicenter of the NASCAR industry.
"When I built the speedway in 1960, it was the largest sports facility in the southeastern United States. Now, 45 years later, through aggressive capital improvements and yearly expansion, it continues to be the model that other sports facilities use for fan and corporate amenities.
"I understand that I am the first 'non-athlete' to be inducted into this hall of fame. With all due respect to Bobby Jones and David Thompson, I was quite a basketball player at Oakboro High. In fact, I won a medal for my basketball ability, so I'm a little surprised I didn't get in based on my basketball skills," Smith joked.
The Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame was established in the fall of 2003 to recognize and honor outstanding sports figures from the Charlotte region and to create greater public awareness of the area's rich sports history and heritage.
Seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt was among the first four athletes inducted into the hall of fame earlier this year.
Smith and the other 2005 Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at a dinner celebration and tribute on April 16 at the Panthers Den at Bank of America Stadium.