By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bruton Smith has passed away. He was 95.
An official cause of death has not been announced yet. Atlanta Motor Speedway said that Smith died of natural causes.
“His mind is racing all the time; he’s done so much for the sport,” said Rick Hendrick, an auto dealer and fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer, in a 2016 interview with NASCAR.com. “He’s so brave to step out and try things that have never been tried before. He helped build this sport.”
He was the Founder and Executive Chairman of Sonic Automotive, Speedway Motorsports, and Speedway Children’s Charities. In addition to owning NASCAR facilities, Speedway Motorsports is also the owner of several drag strips.
“When you think about the Charlotte Motor Speedway and Bristol, and tracks like New Hampshire and Sonoma and Atlanta, he’s been the best,” 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee and fellow automobile dealer Roger Penske told NASCAR.com in 2016. “There’s no question. He set the bar.”
Smith’s death comes days after an event at one of his drag strips. The NHRA’s national event at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals concluded on Sunday at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tennessee.
“I love the racing business. I want to contribute more and more,” Smith said in 2015. “You hear us preach about ‘fan friendly.’ I think that is a driver for me to just do more things. I enjoy the contributions I’ve been able to make to the sport.”
Following his May 2021 win at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, living legend John Force dedicated the win to Smith.
“I love this guy and everything he’s done for our sport,” said the 16-time NHRA champion. “I’m excited I get to send this trophy home to somebody I love—a guy who built our sport.”
Force also took to Twitter after learning about Smith’s passing.
“I’m really sad to hear about the passing of Bruton Smith,” Force said in a tweet. “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.”© 2007-2023 The Capital Sports Report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcasted, rewritten, or redistributed.