Legendary NASCAR track owner and promoter Bruton Smith died Wednesday. He was 95 years old.
The Hall of Famer founded Speedway Motorsports, which operates 11 racetracks across the United States. Among them is Charlotte Motor Speedway, which he purchased and built in 1959.
On Wednesday evening, seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson gave his condolences to Smith’s family in a touching tribute posted on Twitter.
“I’ve had so many incredible memories with Bruton over the years but one of my favorites was gifting him my final Martinsville clock,” Johnson wrote. “The smile on his face that day I’ll never forget. Rest easy Bruton, we are keeping the whole Smith family in our thoughts and prayers.”
In 2017, Johnson picked up his final three Cup Series victories at three Speedway Motorsports properties in Texas, Bristol, and Dover. He won 11 races at Dover over his decorated career and nine at Charlotte.
Per The Charlotte Observer‘s Scott Fowler, Smith once joked that Johnson should slap somebody to counteract his nice-guy persona.
“I just think it would help him maybe get away from that vanilla part of Jimmie,” Smith said. “He would show people the other side of Jimmie Johnson. Hey, if he needs to, he can hit me.”
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France called Smith “the lifeblood of NASCAR” and credited the sport’s pioneer for expanding the sport’s popularity.
Our condolences go out to Smith’s family