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he biggest news in drag racing is that Bruton Smith and his company SMI Inc. are making a run at buying the National Hot Rod Association. According to Mr. O. Bruton Smith, he is making a legitimate effort. According to Jerry Archambeault (NHRA VP Public Relations and Communication) no such thing is happening. Archambeault even went so far as to issue a statement aired on the NHRA 2day program March 20, 2005 where he was quoted as saying, "No NHRA official, including Wally Parks has had any discussions about any sale to Bruton Smith."

In order to get the straight information about whether Smith is indeed talking to NHRA or Wally Parks about the possible sale of the property we went right to Smith himself and asked if he would comment on the possibility of adding the NHRA to his motorsports empire, which includes three of NHRA's tracks (Bristol, Las Vegas and Sonoma) and numerous NASCAR facilities including, Bristol, Atlanta and Charlotte. What follows is the interview conducted by DRO Editor Jeff Burk with Mr. Smith on March 22, 2005.

The first thing I have to ask you is have you had any conversations with the NHRA and specifically Mr. Wally Parks? NHRA has categorically denied that you've talked to anyone including Mr. Parks about purchasing the NHRA or that the sanctioning body is for sale.

smith: Really, they said that? Well, I talked to Wally Parks about 10 to 12 days ago and he just recently called me back about some things we've discussed. I've had conversations with NHRA and Tom Compton and off over the past three years about me buying it (NHRA). I actually got the impression they were pursuing me. I haven't met with Tom
Compton specifically about buying the NHRA; I didn't think he was the person to talk to about it. I hope that doesn't hurt his feelings.

I have some of NHRA's premier drag racers working as go-betweens between Mr. Parks and myself. The main issue I had was to convince Mr. Parks that if I were to buy the organization I would share and proceed with his vision for the sport and its growth. I think I've convinced him that I would.

[Editor's Note: DRO made a quick call to the state of California just to see if a 501C-6 corporation can be sold and indeed it can be. According to the state of California the NHRA could be sold by the person or persons who did the incorporation. The NHRA was incorporated on 3-31-51. We're still checking, but we guess that Wally Parks' name is on that document. So it would make sense that Mr. Smith would be speaking to Mr. Parks concerning a possible sale.]

Mr. Smith, how did you get involved with drag racing and have you ever drag raced?

smith: I've never drag raced. I initially got involved with drag racing when I bought Infineon (the NASCAR/NHRA facility in Sonoma, California). It had a drag strip. I then bought Bristol and I remembered how popular it was when it was an IHRA track and was called Thunder Valley. Attending races at that track back then made an impression on me. Then, of course, when I built the facility at Las Vegas I also included a drag strip.


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