Funeral arrangements have been made for NASCAR Hall of Famer and Charlotte Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith who died at the age of 95.
Charlotte Motor Speedway confirmed he died Wednesday of natural causes.
The funeral is open to the public and is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, Speedway officials announced Saturday.
It will be held at Central Church at 5301 Sardis Road in southeast Charlotte. Guests are asked to arrive and be seated by 12:30 p.m.
The service will be live-streamed on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s YouTube channel here.
“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 built Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1960 and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2016 class.
He founded Speedway Motorsports in December 1994, and in February 1995, he made it the first motorsports company to trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
Now, Speedway Motorsports owns 11 motorsports entertainment facilities across the country, including Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway, Texas Motor Speedway, Dover Motor Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.
“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.”
— Charlotte Motor Speedway (@CLTMotorSpdwy) June 22, 2022
Then in January 1992, Smith founded Sonic Automotive, and in 2000 it was first officially recognized as a Fortune 500 company based in Charlotte.
Under Smith, Speedway Motorsports facilities were the first in racing to add condominiums, fine-dining Speedway Clubs, superspeedway lighting, and giant high-definition video screens.
“His mind is racing all the time; he’s done so much for the sport,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports 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.”
Smith was born March 2, 1927 on a farm in Oakboro, 30 miles east of Charlotte. Smith was the youngest of nine children. He watched his first race as an 8-year-old during the Depression and bought his first race car at the age of 17 for $700.
Smith is survived by sons Scott, Marcus and David, daughter, Anna Lisa, their mother, Bonnie Smith and seven grandchildren.
Statement from the Concord mayor and city council:
“Bruton Smith was a visionary. His ideas not only transformed motorsports but also our city. Through his pioneering efforts, Charlotte Motor Speedway became the envy of NASCAR, drawing thousands of fans each year to Concord for unmatched racing experiences and lasting memories. Today, the road bearing his name, Bruton Smith Boulevard, is one of the highest travelled destinations in our city with over seven million cars travelling through the corridor each year.
“In all things, Bruton never settled for mediocrity, he always pushed forward towards the future. His tenacity and drive for excellence continues to inspire us, and we are forever grateful for the many ways in which he moved our community forward and contributed to Concord’s success.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the Smith family during this difficult time.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Racing community shares social posts remembering Bruton Smith
Bruton’s contribution to stock car racing is hard to measure. His ambitious vision created growth and opportunities that I am forever thankful for. My heart is with the Smith family. https://t.co/GUSu7kxLQS
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) June 22, 2022
I’m heart broken this afternoon my good friend Bruton Smith passed away, he helped me in so many ways, he was an icon in the sport he loved, RIP my dear friend!
— Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) June 22, 2022
Really sorry to hear of the passing of the great Bruton Smith. In my opinion, Bruton forced all the race tracks to up their game. Bruton invented the beautiful facilities in @NASCAR . My prayers to the family @MarcusSMI ❤️
— Kenny Wallace (@Kenny_Wallace) June 22, 2022
A statement from NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France on the passing of Bruton Smith. pic.twitter.com/k4MvJPoH89
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 22, 2022
Bruton Smith was a pioneer who helped make motorsports mainstream and allowed guys like me to make a living doing what we love. He helped grow not just NASCAR, but all kinds of racing. He had his hands in all of it, and even though he’s gone, his fingerprints remain. https://t.co/wsbrQMo7UM
— Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) June 22, 2022
So sad to hear of the passing of Bruton Smith. He was a true giant in our industry and did more to elevate the race fan experience than anyone else on the planet. Prayers for my friends Marcus and Cassi, Scott, David, Anna Lisa, Bonnie and the grandchildren. #RIP pic.twitter.com/QKRUEj4m5X
— Dave Moody (@DGodfatherMoody) June 22, 2022
— Winston Kelley (@WinstonKelley) June 22, 2022
A statement from Joe Gibbs on the passing of Bruton Smith: pic.twitter.com/2GcjwqnIca
— Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) June 22, 2022
I’ve had so many incredible memories with Bruton over the years but one of my favorites was gifting him my final Martinsville clock. The smile on his face that day I’ll never forget. Rest easy Bruton, we are keeping the whole Smith family in our thoughts and prayers. pic.twitter.com/wsso6G7PUu
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) June 22, 2022
My sincere condolences to the Smith family for their loss. Rest in peace, Bruton. https://t.co/5gBQ7VEvms
— Mario Andretti (@MarioAndretti) June 22, 2022
I'm really sad to hear about the passing of Bruton Smith. 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. pic.twitter.com/6Zuhiqnx69
— John Force (@JohnForce_FC) June 22, 2022
(WATCH BELOW: Bruton Smith Honored With Renaming Of Speedway Boulevard)