ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–A legendary NASCAR figure with strong ties to Rockford has died. Bruton Smith has died of natural causes at the age of 95 according to the company he founded Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
Smith lived in Rockford and opened an auto dealership here in 1966 known as Frontier Ford. It’s now Rock River Ford on North Alpine Road. Smith was also married in Rockford, and he started a family here before returning to his home state of North Carolina.
Smith owned several auto dealerships in more than 20 states under Sonic Automotive, a company Smith founded in 1997. He poured his fortune into racing becoming a premier promoter of the sport and a track owner.
His Speedway Motorsports, Inc. owns 11 tracks (Atlanta, Bristol, Charlotte, Dover, Kentucky, Las Vegas, Nashville, New Hampshire, North Wilkesboro, Sonoma and Texas).
In 2005 Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.5 billion. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016.