Bruton Smith, NASCAR Hall of Famer and track owner, dies at 95
(CNN) Bruton Smith, a longtime fixture in NASCAR and a Hall of Fame inductee for building and promoting auto racing events nationwide, died Wednesday at age 95 of natural causes, according to a statement from track operating company Speedway Motorsports.
Marcus Smith, his son and president of the company his father led for decades, said on social media , "While we mourn the passing of my father, we also rejoice for the life he lived and for the amazing legacy he left to inspire us all."
Born Ollen Bruton Smith in 1927, the North Carolinian worked as a track promoter before making his mark designing and building Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile oval now known for annually hosting NASCAR's longest race at 600 miles in length.
The track's first 600-miler was held at its grand opening in 1960.
"I 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 once said, according to the statement.
"I want to put something on so regardless who won the race, it will be a memorable experience.
We're here to entertain fans, and I want them to go home with a memory that will last forever."
Bruton Smith makes his Hall of Fame acceptance speech on January 23, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Smith was a key figure during NASCAR's expansion in the 1990s as the sport began to transition away from a Southeast-driven sport to one with more of a national focus.
He oversaw the creation of speedways in new markets such as Dallas-Fort Worth, and races at upgraded facilities spanning from Sonoma, California, and Las Vegas eastward to Loudon, New Hampshire, and Dover, Delaware, would often comprise a large bulk of NASCAR's yearly schedule.