Consumer >> CEO Interviews >> October 1, 1998

O. Bruton Smith – Speedway Motorsports (trk)

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 children. Profile
TWST: Give us a brief summary, a bit of an historical sketch on

Speedway Motorsports, and then bring us up to date. What are the

challenges and opportunities for your company over the next two