CONCORD, N.C. — Friends, family, and fans will honor an icon in Charlotte sports this week. The funeral service for Bruton Smith is set for June 30th. Smith died at the age of 95.
WCCB Charlotte’s Jeff Taylor talked to one NASCAR broadcaster to learn more about the legacy Smith leaves behind.
“It is an honor to work for somebody that expects the absolute best because that is what Bruton wanted, that is what he was all about and you knew that,” says Doug Rice, President of the Performance Racing Network.
Rice worked 33 years for Bruton Smith and in that time he learned what Smith was all about.
“I have never been around anybody that enjoyed working as much as Bruton Smith did. He got up in the morning, he wasn’t thinking about planning his next vacation or his next break, he was thinking about the next thing he could do to expand his empire and to work,” says Rice.
And work he did. From creating Speedway Motorsports to his Speedway Children’s Charities, Bruton Smith built a legacy that earned him a spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016. But there was another side to Bruton Smith that Doug Rice got a chance to see.
“Yes, he was a billionaire and he had all the trappings of wealth but he still, I think in his heart, had a great appreciation for the people that buy the tickets and support this sport.”
And Bruton Smith reminded himself of those fans and his humble beginnings every race day.
“There is always a cooler and it is filled with Dove bar ice cream and Bruton is kind of known for that and the reason being when he was growing up Dove bar ice cream was a luxury his family could not afford that often and Bruton said when I make it there is going to be ice cream around for everybody,” says Rice.
And it is stories like that the NASCAR community and fans will hear at his memorial.