The 31st annual AutoTrader.com Speedway Children’s Charities Gala presented by Bank of America on Wednesday, May 25, will honor O. Bruton Smith, founder of Speedway Children’s Charities and chairman of the board for Speedway Motorsports, Inc.

Smith founded Speedway Children’s Charities in 1982 as a memoriam and legacy to his son, Bruton Cameron Smith, who passed away at a young age. Though his experience, O. Bruton Smith developed a passion for helping children in need. He established the first chapter at Charlotte Motor Speedway and has since expanded the non-profit organization nationwide to Speedway Motorsports, Inc. tracks in Atlanta, Bristol, New Hampshire, Texas, Las Vegas and Sonoma.

In recognition of his charitable efforts, Smith received the prestigious NASCAR Award of Excellence in 1997. Since its inception, Speedway Children’s Charities has been able to give nearly $10 million to Charlotte, N.C.,-area non-profits and more than $40 million nationwide because of Smith’s leadership and dedication to the organization.

The 31st Annual AutoTrader.com Speedway Children’s Charities Gala presented by Bank of America, will be held for the first time this year at The Ritz Carlton in uptown Charlotte and represents one of the biggest fundraising nights for the area. The event has raised millions of dollars to improve the quality of life for children in the region since its inception.

Mike Joy, the principal race announcer for NASCAR on FOX, will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the program. Carl Edwards, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and Speedway Children’s Charities national spokesperson, and Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, will be among the speakers at the Gala.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit the grant program of the Charlotte Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities and will be awarded to local non-profit organizations that help children with medical, social, financial and educational needs.

AutoTrader.com is returning as the title sponsor of this year’s Gala, marking its fourth year of sponsorship. Since its initial contribution, AutoTrader.com has donated more than $2 million to the Charlotte Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.

Gala festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception. The reception will include a silent auction, a photo booth by ShutterBooth and live music from the Rowan Big Band All-Stars, an 18-piece band featuring the style of Glenn Miller.

Following the formal portion of the program there will be a live auction with auctioneer Ernest Perry, owner of Perry’s At SouthPark, a jewelry store in Charlotte.

Items up for bid in the live auction include a MontBlanc watch, a trip to the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles and a trip to Las Vegas for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series awards ceremony. The silent auction will feature more than 50 items, including jewelry, dinner parties, race packages and autographed memorabilia.       

For more information on the 31st Annual AutoTrader.com Speedway Children’s Charities Gala presented by Bank of America and other upcoming events contact Emily Hudgens at (704) 455-4426 or visit www.charlotte.speedwaycharities.org.