In recognition of dedicated service and performance for Speedway Motorsports and its world-class entertainment facilities, company officials announced the 2021 Speedway Motorsports winners for Promoter of the Year, Speedway of the Year and the O. Bruton Smith Award recipient this week at a special ceremony in Nashville, where the NASCAR industry is celebrating Champions’ Week.
Top sales performers across the company landscape were also recognized.
“It is always a true privilege to recognize some of Speedway Motorsports’ most passionate and deserving leaders,” said Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports. “Whether behind the scenes or in the spotlight, the leadership and dedication displayed across the board is what elevates Speedway Motorsports to be the very best day in and day out, and their exemplary performance continues to position us as a world-class entertainment company.”
Bruton Smith Award
Speedway Motorsports Vice President of Legal Compliance and Assistant Secretary Janet Kirkley received the 2021 O. Bruton Smith Award.
Created nine years ago to recognize one employee annually across all of Speedway Motorsports and its subsidiaries, the recipient of this prestigious award is someone who exhibits Speedway Motorsports’ Executive Chairman and Founder O. Bruton Smith’s traits: character, enthusiasm, drive, a heart for helping others, respect/appreciation for team members, vision and determination.
Kirkley began her career with Speedway Motorsports as a Charlotte Motor Speedway intern in 2006. For more than 15 years, she climbed the corporate ranks to her current role, where she is responsible for managing the corporate insurance program and providing project management support in the corporate finance and legal departments.
“I started at Charlotte Motor Speedway as an intern in the events department,” Kirkley recalled upon learning that she was this year’s recipient. “I can remember Humpy Wheeler sending me out to look for lights that might be out in the parking lots and thinking, ‘what am I doing?’ But he was really teaching me what we have to look for to serve our fans, mitigate risk and pay attention to detail.
“I’ve had great mentors in Bill Brooks, Cary Tharrington and now Michael Hodge,” added Kirkley. “This is a great family business to work for and I feel very humbled to receive this award named after our founder and chairman, Bruton Smith. It’s been a wonderful career for me with Speedway Motorsports.”
“The O. Bruton Smith Award is the highest individual honor given to an employee of our company,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith. “Janet’s role in our corporate office impacts every facility and subsidiary of our organization. She received multiple nominations for this award from co-workers and is a deserving representative of what it stands for. We’re honored to have her in our Speedway Motorsports family.”
Promoter of the Year
Bristol Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell was named Promoter of the Year, an annual award chosen by Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith and given to one Speedway Motorsports general manager. The Promoter of the Year is awarded to the general manager who best displayed the creativity, innovation, leadership and execution that are fundamental to Speedway Motorsports’ way of doing business.
Under Caldwell’s supervision, Bristol Motor Speedway created a wave of buzz across the sports world when the facility hosted NASCAR’s first Cup Series race on dirt since 1970. The March event not only generated tremendous ticket demand, but opened up additional revenue streams through other dirt racing events in the weeks preceding and following the Food City Dirt Race weekend. Furthermore, Caldwell and his BMS team opened the Thunder Valley Amphitheater with a concert by legendary country music group Alabama; hosted the Dude Perfect Tour of sports and comedy trick shot artists and Morgan Wallen’s Country Thunder Bristol concert; and debuted Speedway Motorsports’ first collection of digital collectible NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Caldwell also led ongoing conversations with the City of Nashville to bring NASCAR back to Music City’s famed Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.
“Jerry Caldwell led our Bristol Motor Speedway staff to create the biggest buzz in NASCAR this year with the Food City Dirt Race,” Smith said. “His extra effort, hustle and determination with other events also generated significant publicity throughout 2021, and it’s a true pleasure to recognize him as our Promotor of the Year.”
Speedway of the Year
Las Vegas Motor Speedway was chosen as Speedway of the Year from among eight state-of-the-art Speedway Motorsports entertainment complexes. The award is presented to Las Vegas for the best overall performance during 2021 in such aspects as fan friendliness, attendance, financial performance, sponsor relations and creativity.
In presenting the award, Smith pointed to the facility’s outstanding performance in generating revenue, entertaining fans and navigating schedule and attendance challenges amidst the pandemic.
“Las Vegas Motor Speedway had attendance limitations due to area COVID restrictions early in the year, yet still maximized revenue potential with exceptional sales efforts and an aggressive track rental schedule,” Smith said. “To reschedule the massive Electric Daisy Carnival from spring to October and keep it on this year’s event calendar was a herculean task from negotiation to planning and execution.
“General Manager Chris Powell and his entire staff deserve this special recognition not only for their performance under challenging circumstances, but for showing the ability to accomplish so much more than what was expected or anticipated.”
Top Sales Performers
The top sales performers from across the company were also recognized for exceptional performance in business development, sponsorship, hospitality, tickets and special events/track rentals. They include:
- Janet Callahan, Bristol Motor Speedway
- Craig Cochran, Las Vegas Motor Speedway
- John Cox, Speedway Motorsports
- Aaron Crowley, Speedway Motorsports
- Steve French, Texas Motor Speedway
- Naysan Gray, Las Vegas Motor Speedway
- Tracy Rich, Charlotte Motor Speedway
- Braun Smith, Speedway Motorsports
“This group represents more than 145 years of service to Speedway Motorsports and more importantly, service to our many corporate clients, fans and customers,” said Kevin Camper, chief sales officer for Speedway Motorsports. “It’s a privilege to recognize them for exceptional performances as well as our entire corporate sales staff who worked so hard to make 2021 a success.”