Wheeler Retires From SMI and Charlotte Motor Speedway
Speedway Motorsports, Inc. announced today that H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, chief operating officer and president of Speedway Motorsports and president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, is retiring from both positions following the Coca-Cola 600.
A decision will be made on Wheeler's successor in the near future by the Speedway Motorsports, Inc. board of directors.
"'Humpy' Wheeler is a true legend in motorsports and his contributions will be missed," said Bruton Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports. "His career with Charlotte Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports, Inc. has been filled with many innovative promotions and I am sure that he will be remembered as one of the greatest promoters in racing history."
"While it is with sadness that I announce my retirement from Speedway Motorsports and Charlotte Motor Speedway, it is time for me to move on to other things," said Wheeler. "I have devoted my entire life to racing and I don't intend on leaving it, just serving it in different ways.
"I have made arrangements with a well-known author to co-write a unique book interweaving my various experiences in the sport with the wonderful human drama and rich characters that abound in it," Wheeler added.
"I will resume the 'Humpy Show' on SPEED Channel and look forward to being chairman of the Charlotte Regional Partnership in 2009. I also look forward to other endeavors, including lecturing and working with the motorsports management program at Belmont Abbey College."
Born in Belmont, N.C., Wheeler attended the University of South Carolina on a football scholarship and graduated in 1961 with a degree in journalism. In addition to football, Wheeler was an outstanding amateur boxer, compiling a 40-2 record including a dozen Golden Gloves Championships.
Prior to joining Charlotte Motor Speedway, Wheeler worked as a sports writer, a real estate manager and a dirt track promoter. He served in a variety of executive positions in the racing division at Firestone Rubber & Tire Co. from 1964 through 1971. He joined the speedway in 1975 and has been general manager since 1976. He was named president in 1980.
During his 33 years at the speedway, Wheeler worked closely with longtime colleague Smith to set the industry standard for motorsports entertainment and to build Charlotte Motor Speedway into the showplace of NASCAR facilities.
In April 2006, Wheeler joined an elite group of those who shaped motorsports history when he was inducted into the prestigious International Motorsports Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame; the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame; and the North Carolina Public Relations Hall of Fame.
"I am grateful to the fans, the staff, the media, the sponsors and everyone who has helped me throughout my racing career," Wheeler said. "I have been blessed with a wonderful family and many close and dear friends who I hope to spend more time with.
"The people I've met along the way-from the Salt Flats of Bonneville, to Indianapolis, to my early dirt-track days, to the wild ride of NASCAR to the top-have furnished me with experiences beyond my wildest dreams. For a boy from the little town of Belmont, N.C., who dreamed of a racing career, I can only say that it ain't over yet.
"I look forward to addressing the crowd for the last time at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday during my 32nd Coca-Cola 600, and thanking them for being there because without them we have nothing," Wheeler concluded.
"We owe Humpy a tremendous debt of gratitude for all he has done for Speedway Motorsports and Charlotte Motor Speedway," said Smith. "We wish him all the best in any future endeavors and hope that he and his wife Pat have a great retirement with their family."
About Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
Speedway Motorsports is a leading marketer and promoter of motorsports entertainment in the United States. The Company owns and operates the following premier facilities: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. The Company provides souvenir merchandising services through its SMI Properties subsidiaries; manufactures and distributes smaller-scale, modified racing cars and parts through its 600 Racing subsidiary; and produces and broadcasts syndicated motorsports programming to radio stations nationwide through its Performance Racing Network subsidiary. The Company also equally-owns Motorsports Authentics, a joint venture formed with International Speedway Corporation to produce, market and sell licensed motorsports merchandise. For more information, visit the Company's website at www.speedwaymotorsports.com.
This news release contains forward-looking statements, particularly statements with regard to the Company's future operations and financial results. There are many factors that affect future events and trends of the Company's business including, but not limited to, consumer and corporate spending sentiment; air travel; governmental regulations; military actions; national or local catastrophic events; the success of and weather surrounding NASCAR, IRL, NHRA and other racing events; our relationship with NASCAR and other sanctioning bodies; the success of expense reduction efforts; capital projects; expansion; economic conditions; stock repurchases; financing needs; insurance; litigation; taxes; oil and gas activities and associated profitability; geopolitical situations in foreign countries; and other factors outside of management control. These factors and other factors, including those contained in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from management's views and expectations. Inclusion of any information or statement in this news release does not necessarily imply that such information or statement is material. The Company does not undertake any obligation to release publicly revised or updated forward-looking information, and such information included in this news release is based on information currently available and may not be reliable after this date.