Marcus Smith, the 35-year-old son of Speedway Motorsports Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith, has been named H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler's successor as president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway.
The younger Smith also has been named president and chief operating officer of Speedway Motorsports, the Concord-based company with $562 million in annual revenue that owns Lowe's Motor Speedway and six other tracks that hold NASCAR races. The company announced last week it's buying an eighth track, the Kentucky Speedway.
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Marcus Smith's promotions were announced after being approved by the Speedway Motorsports board of directors Wednesday, the day Wheeler's retirement after 33 years at the track took effect.
“Marcus has been training for this opportunity throughout his professional career,” Bruton Smith said. “He's come up through the ranks at Charlotte, proven his business savvy with our most recognizable sponsors and handled our sanction negotiations with NASCAR.
“But the thing that's made Marcus a success and will continue to do so is that, in his heart, he's a race fan. He never loses sight of the fact that our customers are the key to everything we do and he always wants to put our fans first.”
One week ago, on the day Wheeler announced his retirement, Marcus Smith addressed the importance of serving fans.
“I love my job,” he said. “I love coming to the speedway every day. I love racing and race fans, and everybody who comes to work here strives to make sure the fans have the best time possible and they want to come back again.”
In announcing earnings earlier this month, Speedway Motorsports said admissions revenue has fallen, and the company said it anticipates some fans will pull back spending because of rising gas prices and economic uncertainty. Company officials said at the time that the economic climate would make them work harder and focus on the fans.
Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage called Smith “the perfect choice” to lead Speedway Motorsports.
“He has worked hard to earn the right to serve as president of Lowe's Motor Speedway as well,” Gossage said. “He single-handedly pioneered naming rights when he signed Lowe's as the title sponsor in 1999.”
Smith has been executive vice president of national sales and marketing for Speedway Motorsports since 2004.
“He's an extremely well-rounded man that has seen all aspects of the sport,” said two-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who has been Marcus Smith's neighbor. “There's a lot of things behind the scenes that have gone on with the relationship with NASCAR, with the licensed merchandise industry we have in this sport, track management, race operations, he's been around it all.
“He has a very quiet and mellow personality to where he's probably flown under the radar when people may not have recognized or realized all he's been doing,” Johnson said. “… He's going to do a phenomenal job. The guy can seriously do anything that he wants to do.”