Rick Hendrick, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr React to the Tragic Demise of NASCAR Pioneer

Published 06/23/2022, 12:40 PM EDT

Earlier, the NASCAR community was rocked when news broke of the passing away of Bruton Smith. The 95-year-old was best known for being the CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc. The organization has been hugely important in NASCAR circles because it owns many of the tracks that the sport races on. So, there were many in the community who were saddened by the loss. Chief among them were Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, former driver Dale Earnhardt Jr and the legendary Richard Petty.

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Petty said, “With heavy hearts, we join the NASCAR community in mourning the passing of Bruton Smith. I remember first meeting Bruton in the 50’s at a dirt race where dad was racing and Bruton was the promoter at the time. Since then, Bruton has become more than just a track owner and promoter. He was a pioneer of our sport and instrumental in building it to what it is today. His vision and passion to make the sport better was seen and felt across many decades and generations of fans. From racetracks to Speedway Children’s Charities, Bruton touched the lives of so many and impacted the lives of everyone he met. Our hearts are with the Smith family in this difficult time.”

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What did Rick Hendrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr say about Bruton Smith?

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According to the Hendrick Motorsports owner, Smith was a pioneer and a NASCAR visionary. He revealed that the late promoter was well-known for taking risks and having them pay off. In his eyes, Bruton was one of the greatest promotors of all-time and built himself a great legacy. The 72-year-old can also proudly say that he was glad to call Bruton a friend.

AVONDALE, AZ – JANUARY 31: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. reacts in the garage during testing at Phoenix International Raceway on January 31, 2017 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Hendrick revealed that Smith was tough, but was also incredibly generous. This is largely evident with the establishment of Speedway Children’s Charities and its impact on the fans. Finally, Dale Earnhardt Jr said, “Bruton’s contribution to stock car racing is hard to measure. His ambitious vision created growth and opportunities that I am forever thankful for. My heart is with the Smith family.”

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In all, the general consensus is that Bruton Smith will be sorely missed by the community. When his death was announced, there was a large outpouring of grief and condolences for his loved ones.

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Dhruv George

13091 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Motorsports author for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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