EDITORIAL: King of the road

Bruton Smith goes so far back in NASCAR history that you’d need a telescopic rear-view mirror to see his beginnings. Relatively speaking, he’s still a newcomer to Southern Nevada, having bought Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1998, two years after the track opened. But he’s made plenty of history here in that short time, just as he has at the numerous other tracks owned by his Speedway Motorsports Inc.

Now Mr. Smith has landed one of the sport’s top honors. As reported by the Review-Journal’s Mark Anderson on May 20, Mr. Smith was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, a crowning achievement in a NASCAR career spanning 60 years. To be sure, his work giving Las Vegas a foothold in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup — the organization’s top racing series — helped the 88-year-old earn his place in the hall. Mr. Anderson noted that Mr. Smith made what might have been his most noteworthy move in 2006, when he poured about $35 million into LVMS for driver- and fan-friendly track improvements and the creation of the popular Neon Garage.

Mr. Smith understood that sports is entertainment, and the Neon Garage turned the annual Cup race into more of an event, rather than just a race. It was one of countless examples of how Mr. Smith helped build NASCAR into the behemoth it is today. “That’s what I’ve tried to do my entire life. I’m a frustrated builder who had a knack for promoting races, and it’s been fun to always try to push the sport to greater heights for the fans,” Mr. Smith said.

The track’s retention of the Sprint Cup race has given the community an anchor tourism event, providing a huge economic boost every March. Congratulations to Mr. Smith on his well-deserved Hall of Fame honor, and for his role in making Las Vegas Motor Speedway one of the great tracks in the country.

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