Motorsports trailblazer Bruton Smith passes away

Bruton Smith built Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway into a sports and entertainment destination.
Bruton Smith with Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Bruton Smith with Dale Earnhardt Sr.(Bristol Motor Speedway)
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 9:59 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:00 PM EDT
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BRISTOL, Tenn. (WVLT) - Speedway Motorsports Executive Chairman Bruton Smith, who built Bristol Motor Speedway & Dragway into a one-of-a-kind world-renowned sports and entertainment destination, passed away on June 22, 2022. The following is a statement from the President and General Manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, Jerry Caldwell:

“It has been a true honor and privilege to have grown my entire career working for and being mentored by entrepreneur titans, Bruton Smith and his son, Marcus. Together they have created a family-like atmosphere at Speedway Motorsports, making today’s news of Bruton’s passing a sad day for all of us at Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway,” Caldwell said.

Smith’s company, Speedway Motorsports, purchased Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway, a Northeast Tennessee half-mile oval and quarter-mile dragstrip, in 1996 and the Nashville Superspeedway in 2021. His leadership saw fans from around the world flock to Tennessee to experience auto racing at its best.

Under his ownership, Smith turned Bristol Motor Speedway into a premier NASCAR venue, boasting a 360-degree viewing experience featuring the world’s largest outdoor, four-sided, center hung, high-definition video screen, Colossus TV.

Smith’s revitalization of Bristol Dragway bolstered the Volunteer State’s reputation as a premier location for drag racing. Legendary “Thunder Valley” hosted some of the biggest events in drag racing history and continues to host major events throughout the year.

“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.”

Richard Petty

Under Smith’s leadership, Speedway Children’s Charities distributed more than $61 million to local organizations across the country that improve the quality of life for children in need.

Survivors include sons Scott, Marcus and David; his daughter, Anna Lisa; their mother, Bonnie Smith; and seven grandchildren. Information regarding funeral arrangements will be released at a later date.

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