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Marcus Smith, his son and president of the company his father ran for decades, said on social media“As we mourn the passing of my father, we also rejoice in the life he lived and the incredible legacy he left to inspire us all.”
Born Ollen Bruton Smith in 1927, the North Carolina worked as a track promoter before making his mark designing and building Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile oval now known for hosting the longest race in NASCAR at 600 miles long. The track’s first 600 mile run was when it opened in 1960.

“I’ve learned from my own experience that when people go to an event — like a big race — they may know who won the race, but all the other stuff they don’t remember,” Smith said, according to the press release. . “I want to put something on so that no matter who won the race, it’s going to be a memorable experience. We’re here to entertain the fans, and I want them to go home with a memory that will last forever.”

Smith was a key figure during NASCAR’s expansion in the 1990s as the sport began to transition from a Southeast-focused sport to a more country-focused sport. He oversaw the creation of freeways in new markets such as Dallas-Fort Worth, and racing at improved facilities from Sonoma, California, and Las Vegas east to Loudon, New Hampshire, and Dover, Delaware would often comprise a large part of NASCAR. annual calendar.

Smith was named the longest serving CEO on the Fortune 500 list in 2012, leading several companies well past his 80s.

He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016 for his contributions to the sport.

“NASCAR has lost one of its true pioneers, visionaries and innovators,” Hall chief executive Winston Kelley said in a statement. “Bruton’s incredible legacy and accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR will forever live on in our minds, our archives, in the cathedrals of speed he built and celebrated in the NASCAR Hall of Fame forever.”

Smith is survived by his four children and seven grandchildren.


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