Speedway Motorsports founder remembered at NASCAR race
By TERESA M. WALKER
LEBANON, Tenn. (AP) The man who founded Speedway Motorsports had a presence Sunday during NASCAR's Ally 400 race at the track his company bought last November.
Bruton Smith died Wednesday at the age of 95. The Hall of Famer who was one of the biggest track owners and most successful promoters in the history of auto racing was remembered on cars at the Nashville Superspeedway with a popular sticker featuring Smith's name with the years of his life.
John Force Racing's car featured Smith's name along with calling him "A TRUE LEGEND - A TRUE FRIEND."
Smith's son, Marcus, said his father would be humbled by all the recognition.
"Our family has felt an incredible outpouring of prayers, support, and kindness over the last few days," Marcus Smith wrote on Twitter. "My family and I are grateful. Thank you."
Smiths funeral is scheduled for Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will be open to the public. The funeral will be live-streamed on Charlotte Motor Speedway's YouTube Channel. The graveside ceremony will be private.
Staying cool on and off the track Sunday took top priority at Nashville Superspeedway with the temperature sizzling up to the mid-90s in the hottest race yet this season with humidity making it feel around 100 degrees. Inside the race cars on the the temperature can climb near 125 degrees.
With entertainment for fans starting hours before the race started, track officials had six misting tents available along with free cooling towels handed out at the gates. They also had six free water stations and water fountains scattered around the concourses.
Fans were allowed to bring in empty insulated bottles or containers up to 64 ounces or bring in their own water bottles if sealed. Everyone got a break when lightning within seven miles stopped the race early during stage 1 for just over an hour. Then thunderstorms really cooled everyone off, stopping the race again for more than two hours.
Racing at Nashville means bringing the stars out, and NBC Sports got possibly Music City's brightest to welcome viewers Sunday.
Music icon Dolly Parton anchored a nearly 2-minute intro that noted her own drive to get from her hometown in East Tennessee to Nashville where any stage gives "a magical feeling because you now you're standing on the stage where some of the greatest legends ever have stood."
Parton said the key is having a lot of faith and confidence in your gift to chase the dream.
"Then you've got to work it, you've got to stay with it," Parton said. "You've got to be willing to sacrifice for it. You've got to make it happen. It ain't just going to happen. I really think that's what drives most people with a great talent. We burn with that desire ... We've got something that is magic."
AVOIDING MEME STATUS
WWE star Sheamus easily handled the job Sunday as the honorary starter, though he had some concern before the race. He didn't lose his grip when it came time to wave the green flag with the wrestler knowing millions would be watching.
"So I just want to make sure I super glue that thing to me hand, so it doesn't fall out you know what I mean? That's the thing. I mean I don't want to become a meme."
Sheamus held onto the flag with no issues, avoiding any meme issues.
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Updated June 26, 2022