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Smith Buys Bristol to Expand Empire

January 23, 1996

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Speedway Motorsports Inc., led by motorsports mogul Bruton Smith, has bought another speedway, purchasing Bristol (Tenn.) Raceway from track founder Larry Carrier.

The deal gives Speedway Motorsports ownership of three NASCAR Winston Cup Series tracks _ Charlotte Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Bristol facility.

The firm also owns 50 percent of North Wilkesboro Speedway and is building a major new track, Texas Motor Speedway, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with hopes of opening it in the fall.

Smith personally owns about 26 percent of North Carolina Motor Speedway near Rockingham.

``We have absolutely, unequivocally no plans to move a Winston Cup race from Bristol,″ Smith told The Charlotte Observer on Monday. ``As a matter of fact, we already have been looking at several possible areas of improving the speedway, including additional seats.″

Financial details of the deal were unavailable.

Carrier opened the .533-mile raceway in 1961. He sold it in the early 1980s, but after three years reassumed ownership and turned the facility into the short-track showplace of motorsports, adding high-rise grandstands in every spot possible until seating capacity reached about 90,000.

Bristol’s August night race on the Winston Cup schedule has sold out months ahead for the past few years. The track’s spring race in April usually has been run to standing-room-only crowds.

Many fans rate the Bristol events their favorites on the schedule because the track’s 36-degree banks _ the steepest in NASCAR _ produce sizzling speeds for so short a layout.

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