NASCAR & Auto Racing

TMS owner Bruton Smith elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame

Bruton Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO and chairman of the board, is headed to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Bruton Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO and chairman of the board, is headed to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Getty Images for NASCAR

Bruton Smith is headed to the Hall of Fame.

NASCAR announced its 2016 class on Wednesday evening, and the owner of Texas Motor Speedway made the cut.

“Home sweet home. Bruton Smith is a contemporary of every individual in the story of NASCAR,” TMS president Eddie Gossage said in a statement. “He was promoting races before NASCAR was formed. He set the standard for all speedways in the world, always putting fans first. He brought VIP luxury suites, condominiums, Speedway Clubs and his latest fan amenity — mega-big screens so massive no other sport has even considered utilizing them.

“From NASCAR’s first winner, Red Byron, to Curtis Turner to Richard Petty to David Pearson to Dale Earnhardt to Jeff Gordon to Jimmie Johnson to Kevin Harvick, Bruton helped lead the sport through them all.”

Smith’s official title is executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., a publicly traded company he founded that now owns and operates eight tracks. Along with TMS, the company also oversees Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Sonoma Raceway.

“I’m a frustrated builder who had a knack for promoting races, and it’s been fun to always try to push the sport to greater heights for the fans,” Smith said in a statement. “Even if they don’t remember who won the race, I want them to remember the pre-race show and having the time of their lives. I want fans to know we’re always working to build the best facilities for them and that’s who I really owe this recognition to. The millions of fans who’ve attended our race tracks all of these years are the ones who really deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

“They’ve built the sport right along with us, and I want to sincerely say thank you to them and the voting committee.”

Smith had plenty of support, including a public plea by respected team owner Rick Hendrick during his induction into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame last month.

“I love Bruton Smith,” Hendrick said during his acceptance speech. “I want to say Bruton Smith should be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.”

Smith appeared on 68 percent of the ballots, the most of the five inductees. The class also includes Texan Terry Labonte, Curtis Turner, Jerry Cook and Bobby Isaac.

Labonte, born and raised in Corpus Christi, had 22 career Cup wins, including one at TMS in 1999. He is also a member of the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Gossage took to Twitter to express his feelings on Labonte getting inducted as well as Smith, writing: “Big day for Texas @NASCARHOF! Texas Terry Labonte has joined the Hall! Congrats friend. @TxMotorSpeedway.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison