Racing world reacts to news of Smith’s death | Sports

Bruton Smith was a colorful and innovative promoter in the world of motorsport and a very successful businessman, running one of the largest automotive groups in the country.

He increased the seating capacity at Bristol Motor Speedway to more than twice the size when he bought the track in 1996. He added features such as Colossus TV and corporate suites. He demolished Bristol Dragway’s old tower and built a new one, turning it into a first stop on the NHRA tour.

Never afraid to take a chance, he pioneered the idea of ​​the greatest football game in the world, which saw the light of day with the 2016 ‘Battle at Bristol’. He also endorsed the dirt on the surface of concrete racing, providing fans with different experiences every time they attend races in Bristol.

Those in the racing world shared their thoughts on Smith, the founder and executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports, the parent company of Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway.

Jim France, Chairman and CEO of NASCAR: “Racing fans are, and always will be, the lifeblood of NASCAR. Few people knew this truth better than Bruton Smith. Bruton built its race tracks using a simple philosophy: to give racing fans memories that they will cherish them for a lifetime.In doing so, Bruton has helped to increase the popularity of NASCAR as the ultimate spectator sport.

“His vision and legacy inspired many, and his fan-first mentality lives on today through his son Marcus. On behalf of the France family and all of NASCAR, I offer my deepest condolences to the family. and friends of Bruton Smith, a giant in our sport.

Steve Phelps, NASCAR Chairman: “They broke the mold with Bruton. He was a force, a titan in our industry, a visionary. I know Marcus is carrying on his legacy, but our thoughts and prayers are with the entire family and those who knew him. It is a great loss for our sport today.

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Rick Hendrick, Owner of Hendrick Motorsports and President and CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group: “A pioneer, a visionary and a true original. Never afraid to take a chance, Bruton will go down as one of the greatest promoters and innovators in motorsport history. I have tremendous admiration for the legacy he left in both racing and the automotive industry. Even though we occasionally competed, I was always happy to call Bruton a friend.

“He was someone you wanted on your side because he was tough as nails and never backed down from a fight. At the same time, Bruton was incredibly generous and devoted much of his life to giving back. The impact of Speedway Children’s Charities and its countless acts of kindness cannot be measured.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., 15-time NASCAR most popular driver and winner of 26 races, including the 2004 Bristol Night Race: “Bruton’s contribution to stock car racing is difficult to measure. His ambitious vision has created growth and opportunity for which I am eternally grateful. My heart is with the Smith family.

Tony Stewart, three-time NASCAR champion and winner of 49 Cup Series races, including the 2001 Bristol Night Race: “Bruton Smith was a trailblazer who helped bring motorsport to the mainstream and allowed guys like me to make a living doing what we love. He helped develop not just NASCAR, but all kinds of racing. He had his hands in it all, and even though he’s gone, his fingerprints remain.

Darrell Waltrip, three-time NASCAR champion and longtime FOX television analyst: “I am heartbroken this afternoon. My good friend Bruton Smith has passed away. He has helped me in so many ways. He was an icon in the sport he loved. RIP my dear friend!

John Force, 16-time NHRA Funny Car Champion: “I’m so sad to hear of Bruton Smith’s passing. He was a personal friend. Everyone knows what he did for motorsport, NHRA and NASCAR. He was like a second father to me. “I met him when he opened Bristol. Of course I loved him. I will miss him. His legacy will live on.”

Clay Walker, CEO of NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership: “NASCAR Hall of Famer Bruton Smith was larger than life. He took BMS to incredible heights and really ‘got’ Bristol, saying you could build the track anywhere, but you couldn’t replicate our people. Condolences Marcus Smith, Jerry Caldwell and all who loved him.

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