Business

Bruton Smith, the producer?

Speedway owner. Head of a Fortune 500 automotive retailer. Billionaire.

And to think Bruton Smith almost added “movie producer” to his long list of titles.

A few years ago, Smith – the founder and chief executive of Sonic Automotive and Speedway Motorsports – read “Wild Ride,” the story behind the fall of a famous Kentucky breeding farm and racing stable.

Published in 1995, the book also chronicled the mysterious death of Alydar, a stallion that in 1978 finished second to Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races.

“It had everything in it,” Smith said. “In essence, they created the murder of a great horse.”

After reading “Wild Ride,” Smith wanted to make a movie version. “I got one script written about it,” he said. “I didn't like it.”

Smith eventually dropped the project, and now only occasionally reads books, usually mysteries. “I like Mickey Spillane,” he said.

Otherwise, Smith, 81, regularly reads three newspapers: The Charlotte Observer, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. He sometimes reads The New York Times and The Washington Post.

While he doesn't own an iPod or other portable media player, Smith said he listens to music in his car and at home.

“I used to love jazz,” he said. “My favorite has always been country music.” Jefferson George

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