O. Bruton Smith

O. BRUTON SMITH is Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Speedway
Motorsports. Starting with humble beginnings growing up on a farm near
Oakboro, N.C., Burton Smith has come a long way. Citing his love for
‘building things,’ Smith has built a business empire, especially in
the motorsports industry. Profiled in the 1996 Forbes 400, Smith was
listed as the 187th richest person in America. He was featured again
in Forbes’ 1997 edition. As Chairman of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., a
New York Stock Exchange-listed company that owns Atlanta Motor
Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Sears
Point Raceway, Texas Motor Speedway and 600 Racing, he has also been
named as one of ‘top ten most influential people’ in auto racing by
several different motorsports trade publications. He was also cited as
top ‘newsmaker’ for 1996 by most of those same trade publications and
the Eastern Motorsports Press Association. Smith, in partnership with
race car driving star Curtis Turner, built Charlotte Motor Speedway
and promoted the first World 600 (now known as the Coca-Cola 600) in
June 1960. While the speedway was successful in drawing crowds, it was
undercapitalized and placed in Chapter 11 reorganization. It later
became the first North Carolina corporation to survive Chapter 11
reorganization. In 1990, Smith purchased the Atlanta Motor Speedway in
Hampton, Ga. The speedway hosts two NASCAR Winston Cup races each
year, including the NASCAR Winston Cup season finale each November.
Since his acquisition, Smith has made several major capital
improvements at the Atlanta facility similar to the amenities found at
Charlotte Motor Speedway. Smith took NASCAR and motorsports to Wall
Street in February 1995 by forming Speedway Motorsports with ownership
of Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and 600 Racing, a
manufacturer and distributor of entry-level race cars including the
Legends car. The company was the first motorsports-based company to
trade on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:TRK). Speedway Motorsports
has been a tremendous success story. Under Smith’s direction, the
company built Texas Motor Speedway in the Ft.Worth/Dallas market,
which opened in April 1997 with a NASCAR Winston Cup race. The
facility features more than 150,000 seats, making it the second-
largest sports facility in the world. Speedway Motorsports has also
grown with acquisitions including half of North Wilkesboro Speedway in
North Carolina, Bristol (TN) Motor Speedway, Sears Point Raceway in
Sonoma, Calif. Smith owns approximately 70 percent of Speedway
Motorsports stock. With more than 30 years of automotive retailing
experience, Smith completed a successful public stock offering of
Sonic Automotive in November, 1997. Trading on the New York Stock
Exchange, Sonic Automotive owns and operates 23 automobile
dealerships, four independent used vehicle facilities and seven
collision repair centers in the southeastern and southwestern United
States. Through Sonic Financial Corporation, Smith other business
holdings include Provident American Insurance Company in Dallas and
Chartown, a real estate partnership in Charlotte. In addition to
business, Smith is very active in charity work. He founded the
Speedway Children’s Charities in 1984. The non-profit organization has
raised more than $3 million for children-related causes since its
inception. Smith received the prestigious NASCAR Award of Excellence
in 1997 for his efforts on behalf of the Speedway Children’s
Charities. Smith, who is single, resides in Charlotte. He has four

Related Interviews:

O. Bruton Smith - Speedway Motorsports (trk)
October 01, 1998