Speedway Motorsports Executive Chairman Bruton Smith, who built Bristol Motor Speedway & Dragway into a one-of-a-kind world-renowned sports and entertainment destination passed away on June 22, 2022. The following is a statement from the President and General Manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, Jerry Caldwell:
“It has been a true honor and privilege to have grown my entire career working for and being mentored by entrepreneur titans, Bruton Smith and his son, Marcus. Together they have created a family-like atmosphere at Speedway Motorsports, making today’s news of Bruton’s passing a sad day for all of us at Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway.
“The impact of Bruton’s contributions to the sports and entertainment world are too many to name, but his lasting legacy of building world-renowned destinations will stand the test of time. His contributions personally touched so many in the state of Tennessee throughout his businesses and philanthropic endeavors.
“His vision and passion for creating the most amazing experiences for our guests lives on today through his mantra of, ‘We work for the fans.’ We will continue to carry the torch he built and lit for us to the best of our abilities to honor and celebrate the legend we lost today.”
Notable Sports and Entertainment Accomplishments of Bruton Smith in the state of Tennessee:
· Smith’s company, Speedway Motorsports, purchased Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway, a Northeast Tennessee half-mile oval and quarter-mile dragstrip in 1996, and the Nashville Superspeedway in 2021. His leadership has seen fans from around the world flock to Tennessee to experience auto racing at its best.
· Under his ownership, Smith turned Bristol Motor Speedway into a premier NASCAR venue, boasting a 360-degree viewing experience featuring the world’s largest outdoor, four-sided, center hung, high-definition video screen, Colossus TV.
· Smith’s revitalization of Bristol Dragway has bolstered the Volunteer State’s reputation as a premier location for drag racing. Legendary “Thunder Valley” has hosted some of the biggest events in drag racing history and continues to host major events throughout the year.
· Under Smith’s leadership, Bristol Motor Speedway transformed The Last Great Colosseum into a premier dirt racing showplace in 2000-2001, and in 2021-2022 the race track resurrected NASCAR Cup Series dirt racing on the official schedule for the first time in 50 years.
· Racing is just one part of the Bristol lore. Smith’s greatest dream for his Tennessee facility came true in 2016. Two decades in the making, the spectacular Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol became the biggest game in college football history with 156,990 guests in attendance. Featuring the Tennessee Volunteers and the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol proved that any type of sporting event is possible at The Last Great Colosseum.
· Throughout his tenure, enhancements continued within the facility, including the addition of two 360-degree open-air outdoor bars and viewing area for general admission ticket holders in 2021 and increased suites at the Northeast Tennessee venue from 20 to nearly 200.
· At the home of the birthplace of country music, his Northeast Tennessee property has hosted some of country music’s biggest names such as ALABAMA, Kenny Chesney and Morgan Wallen.
· An entrepreneurial visionary, Smith is also an active philanthropist. Founded in 1996, the Bristol Motor Speedway chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities has raised nearly $19 million to support child-focused agencies in the eighteen counties surrounding Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway in the last 25 years.
· Smith’s official induction into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame took place during an induction ceremony in Nashville on June 27, 2020.