On Wednesday afternoon, the NASCAR world lost a legendary figure when a Hall of Fame member passed away.
Bruton Smith, a legendary businessman and philanthropist, passed away this week, according to a statement from Charlotte Motor Speedway. He was 95 years old.
"A visionary and transformative figure in both business and entertainment, Ollen Bruton Smith, the founder and executive chairman of Sonic Automotive, Speedway Motorsports and Speedway Children’s Charities died today of natural causes," the statement said.
The billionaire founded Speedway Motorsports in December 1994. In February 1995, he made it the first motorsports company to trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company currently owns and operates 11 motorsports entertainment facilities - including Bristol Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
A story about buying a race car - and hopefully driving it - captured fans' attention.
“I bought a race car for $700. The whole idea at that time was that I was going to be a race car driver,” Smith once explained. “I learned to drive, but that career didn’t last long.” Smith’s mother had other ideas and prayed to a higher authority. “She started fighting dirty,” laughed Smith in a 2005 interview with Motorsport.com. “You can’t fight your mom and God, so I stopped driving.”
Rest in peace to a legend.