CONCORD, N.C. -- Bruton Smith, chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., says that his company's business philosophy is to "grow or die."
At 81 years of age, the robust and enthusiastic Smith obviously figures he'd better keep buying stuff to keep his SMI operation growing. With that in mind, Smith announced the purchase of Kentucky Speedway on Thursday -- doing so with great fanfare from the media center at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"I think what we're doing here for Speedway Motorsports is the biggest announcement we've ever, ever made -- mainly because of what we're doing and where we're doing it," Smith said. "We've been working on this for a little while. We tried our best to keep it a secret, and were doing pretty good until the last couple of days."
Smith said he made the purchase because he loves the facility and he believes he can secure a Sprint Cup date for it by the 2009 season. Kentucky Speedway, opened in 2000 after being constructed for approximately $152 million, has hosted one Craftsman Truck Series race every year since and one Nationwide Series race annually since 2001. Smith also said that he plans to add "a few seats, like about 50,000" as quickly as possible. The current seating capacity at Kentucky Speedway is 66,089, but it has drawn Nationwide race crowds of more than 72,000 with fans in the infield area included in the attendance count.
The biggest question left unanswered by Smith at Thursday's news conference was where a Sprint Cup date for his new acquisition will come. He admitted that a possible purchase of yet another facility he was unwilling to identify could work in tandem with the purchase of Kentucky Speedway to secure a Cup date for Kentucky.