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January 23, 2016

Brad Keselowski

Bruton Smith

Darrell Waltrip

Charlotte, North Carolina

BRAD KESELOWSKI: For me, with each autograph, each blog post, and each tweet, everything points back to the most important piece: The piece of the puzzle is the NASCAR fan. That said, I have a long ways to go before catching up to our next inductee.
(Video shown.)
As you can tell, few know how to connect with fans better than the founder of Speedway Motorsports Incorporated, who today, 70 years after promoting his first stock car race still strives to create the best fan experience possible at the eight NASCAR tracks he owns. He's a true visionary, so please welcome 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, Mr.Bruton Smith.
DARRELL WALTRIP: Quick comment: They told me to keep it short, and I will. I can just tell all the drivers in the crowd, you'd better be glad that he became a promoter and not a driver because the stories he told me about the short period of time he was a driver, he would be getting inducted tonight into the Hall of Fame as a driver, but he's not, as he chose a much better route for all of us. He gave us all great places to race, and so now it's my honor on this 23rd day of January, 2016, to present the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee ring and official induction to Bruton Smith. Bruton, welcome to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
BRUTON SMITH: Oh, well, thank you, sir. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, Darrell. That was wonderful, as always.
If you ever want to follow somebody, follow Darrell Waltrip. It's a pleasure, okay?
I feel like I'm even closer now to Junior Johnson, just a case of following you, Darrell. Junior, you know he's a fabulous race car driver, right? I would have relieved for him but you didn't call me. I might would have hit more cars than he did, I don't know. But I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for attending this evening, and I appreciate it. I see an awful lot of friends here, and I want to thank all my friends that are here, and I want to thank all my employees. I understand we have 15,000 of them, and some of them are here this evening. Thank you for coming, Mr. and Mrs. Employee.
And let's see. We've got other people that I want to thank. I want to thank all the people that voted for me. That was wonderful. You took a chance, but you know how it is, when you got married you took a chance. But again I'm glad you voted for me, and I'm here.
I have such a prepared speech here that I have right here in front of me and I'll go ahead and follow it right to the letter. I want to tell you a little bit about what I did at the very beginning. I wanted to be a race driver. I had a real strong desire to do that, and so I bought a race car for $700, and Junior knows, that's a lot of money then. But $700 and I had a race car.
So I started driving, and I learned how to drive, and it was not as difficult as I thought it was. So anyway, I thought, okay, now I've got my career going.
But my dad didn't have a problem with it, he just said, be careful, boy. I was, but my mom had a problem with it, and she said, I wish you wouldn't do that, and I heard that a dozen times, I guess, and my mother was a very religious person, and my mom started praying I would quit.
Well, I knew then when she did that it was time for me to quit because I was not going to compete with that. That's when I quit, and I went over on the other side, and I started promoting races. The first one I promoted, at about 10:30 that morning on a Sunday it rained about two‑and‑a‑half inches, real quick, which I needed‑‑ I didn't know how badly we needed it, but I don't know if we'd have run the race that day because it was so dusky, but we ran the race, made a little bit of money. I said, well, we're going to have to try this again.
So then I leased the Charlotte Fairgrounds. It didn't rain, didn't rain us out and sold more tickets and made more money, and I said, I'm going to do this again. So just little by little, I found out that you could make money doing what I was doing, and I made money.
And I finally decided, well, what I've got to do now, because Daytona had built a speedway or were in the process, I think I'll build one in Charlotte. Didn't have the money, but I felt like we could raise the money, so I started selling stock, and I sold stock for a dollar a share. Did any of you get any of that? Some of you did? Well, that's good. Ned, you did. Ned, you should have bought more.
So anyway, we raised the money, and that was not enough money, so then I got a second stock to sell it with SEC approval, and that was for $2 a share. See what I mean, Ned? You should have bought more.
So anyway, we had a pretty good deal with that one. I still didn't have enough money, but I had a very rich brother‑in‑law. I mean, he was rich. Some of you people know rich people, but I had a very rich brother‑in‑law, and I thought, okay, I talked with him, he said, well, look, I've got your back, don't worry about it, so I got the speedway 65 percent complete. He died of a stroke.
So I thought, uh‑oh, things are not working out just like I had planned.
So then he had introduced me to some people, and I was able to borrow $300,000 there, so all this money I was gathering up helped a little. But when we got through with all of this and borrowing other money, got the speedway built, but we had debt, and some of you may know about debt, but I learned about debt. When you owe people money, they want you to pay them, you know? And of course sometimes you have a couple of contractors, and they would get to the office in the morning before I would, and so when I got there, they'd say, could we get a check today? I'd say, well, let me think about it, because if I wrote a check it wouldn't be any good, so I couldn't just write a check.
So little by little, we got down the road to where we got the speedway open, as it was, and then of course the next thing we did was I thought, man, I've got to save this speedway because I was in New York and I'm looking everywhere trying to figure out what we can do for money, and I remember meeting with Pepsi Cola. I knew Pepsi Cola had money, so I was there, and I said, we need to do this and that and the other, and I thought, well, I could sell them on the idea, I'm going to give them a 50‑year deal, we'll sell Pepsi Cola at the speedway. They did not go for it.
And you know, till today, you know, we still haven't sold any Pepsi there? (Laughter.)
But we have sold an awful lot of Coca‑Cola. I mean, we have sold millions and millions of cans of Coca‑Cola. As a matter of fact, if we had all the money we took in from selling Coca‑Cola, we would have plenty of money and I could give y'all some money tonight because we took in lots of money there. We were selling Coca‑Cola. You know, cans have not been around forever. Now, some of you people that know that, you don't have a Coca‑Cola can or Pepsi‑‑ no kind of a can at all, but some misguided individual threw a bottle‑‑ everything we sold was in a bottle. Some misguided individual threw a bottle out on the track one Sunday afternoon during a race, and Marvin Panch, may God rest his soul, he was leading the race‑‑ where's Leonard Wood? Hey, it was your car, sir, and it blew your tires out, and he hit the wall, and it cost you the race. Do you remember that?
So anyway, I knew right then we had to get rid of those Coca‑Cola bottles. So I talked to Coca‑Cola, what are we going to do. So they came up with a crazy idea. I say it was a crazy idea because it was a lousy idea, but they decided we were going to serve Coca‑Cola in these little cups, and they made a container where you could put 24 cups and they had a way of filling 24 at one time. I thought, well, now that's pretty good, but it didn't work out too good. But we tried.
And so then from there, we just kept doing what we could do best, and that was we would fill cups at the concession stands, and so later on, by golly, eventually Coca‑Cola, I don't know how they did it but they got a can, and they put that Coca‑Cola in the can, and from there on it didn't matter to us if they did throw a can out on the track. It didn't bother us a bit. So that worked out really good.
So Coca‑Cola is still there, Coca‑Cola is at all eight speedways. We love Coca‑Cola. We love what they do, and God bless Coca‑Cola and all the employees.
I have some money in my bank account back home. A lot of that came from Coca‑Cola. I am so proud of Coca‑Cola.
Anyway, I've got to tell you all a little bit because you probably all don't know how easy it was to build the speedway. Don't ever try it. But in building Charlotte, first off, I had to check all over the entire county for property‑‑ where are you going to build a speedway? Couldn't find a place to build it because we didn't have Interstate 85, we didn't have Interstate 77. We had Highway 29, Highway 74, and there was another highway you all don't even know anything about, but 21. So that was it.
Now, you've got to worry about when you're in this business, ingress and egress, so I was worried about that, so finally I decided we're going to have to get going here and build it anyway. I bought 551 acres of land and got it all cleared. At one time I had six dozer operators in the hospital, and they were not hurt per se, but we couldn't see. Their eyes were shut. They had been hitting hornet nests there, and when they struck those hornets, those hornets would attack, and of course they'd sting them and sting them until their eyes would close and with that I'd send them to the hospital.
Well, we finally tried to get them to wear the nets and they wouldn't wear them and wouldn't wear them. But as they came out of the hospital, we'd get them then to wear the nets. But they had to make a trip to the hospital before they would ever agree to wear them. But that helped us tremendously.
I had an occasion when I was trying to get liability insurance, and these two insurance people, I can tell you they were extremely knowledgeable, and I said, well, we can't pay that kind of a premium, and they said, well, boy‑‑ they had me by my first name, they said, what we need to do here is two people are going to get killed on this job. I said, well, if that's the case, I don't think I want to build it. No, no, go ahead and build it but maybe it won't happen.
Well, one night I'm out there like 2:00 in the morning and I had two men in a pickup truck, and I had them hired, and what they would do, every time all that big equipment, they had about 24 pieces of it that would stop, and the guys would get off and eat, and while they did that I had these two guys that would grease this equipment.
Well, that was going really good, and I'm working two 10‑hour shifts, and that's the way I got it built in nine months. So if you want to go build a speedway next week, you need to set up a program where you can build it in nine months. I didn't do that in Texas, but at Texas ‑‑
MARCUS SMITH: I'm losing my bet on your speech. I told them you'd be less than 8 minutes.
BRUTON SMITH: Well, I apologize. Rick Hendrick said if I carried on out to 12 minutes he'd pay me for it. I'm trying to get there, Rick.
But anyway, we got it built in that length of time by working two 10‑hour shifts, that's 20 hours a day, and working everybody half to death, we were able to get it done in that length of time. Well, it's there. Somebody said, you're very proud of it, and I said, well, I am because nobody can move it. So that made me even more proud of it.
But building a speedway is something you don't want to undertake. I built another one in Texas, and of course there I knew I had to work long and hard, so I set up our own concrete plant. That way we could pump concrete all night long and not be out on Highway 35.
So I built that one in 11 months, see? I told you, nine months, you just can't do it, but built it in 11 months in Texas.
Anyway, I think that's probably enough to tell you about, getting you going towards building another one somewhere, but I understand we've got the Chinese coming in next week, they want to build speedways over in China. Now, I'm not going to get involved in that, Rick. I'm not going to cross the pond to build a speedway.
But anyway, if you have anything else that we've left out, Marcus, I'll try to cover it now. Look at all these people. Man, I am delighted all these people showed up.
MARCUS SMITH: It's hard to encapsulate your career in eight minutes. You need to write a book.
BRUTON SMITH: I'm not going to write a book. I'm definitely not going to write a book. I noticed a while ago before I came out here, somebody was talking about Curtis Turner. Most of you people did not know Curtis Turner, but let me tell you, I knew Curtis Turner, okay? I'll tell you that Curtis Turner was the greatest race driver‑‑ I think most of the drivers that I know would have bought a ticket to have seen him just drive a car. That's how good he was.
Now, if you drove with him‑‑ now, I'm looking at some of you guys that did drive, did you ever drive with him that he didn't hit you? I didn't think so. He'd hit you, wouldn't he, Ned? You had to depend on that. But he was a fabulous race driver, unbelievable.
Sir, don't look so sullen there. If you ever drove with him, he'd hit you, too. Am I right? Wake him up. (Laughter.)
Well, other than that, I appreciate you all for coming, and I hope you have a great season, a great racing season, and I'm delighted and I'm glad to be part of the House of Fame here. It's just great, and I don't know what I'm going to do here, but I plan to spend some time out here, so maybe I'll see you here, okay?
Thank you again. God bless.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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