NASCAR magnate says he’d buy Panthers “if the price is right”


Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has struck a deal to keep his team in Charlotte for 15 years in exchange for public money, and has already prepared to have the team sold within two years of his death.

But if he wanted to divest now, he apparently has an option.

Bruton Smith, a billionaire NASCAR track owner based out of Charlotte, just made a magnanimous if more than a little self-serving gesture during an appearance on local radio.

During an appearance with WBT-AM’s Keith Larson, Smith referenced Richardson’s will stating the team would be sold within two years of his passing, then said: “Why two years? Why not two months?”

“Do you think he’s interested in selling?” Smith asked the host. “I have not approached him. If the price is right, yeah, I’d be interested.”

Smith, who will turn 86 in March, also said he “would commit to the city, and I would not ask them for any money. . . .

“Maybe Mr. Richardson had just as soon sell it today as commit to selling it two years after his passing. I don’t know. That could happen, don’t you think?”

Smith, the owner of Sonic Automotive, and Speedway Motorsports Inc., owns a number of NASCAR tracks. But he threatened to move the one nearest Charlotte in a spat with government officials over tax subsidies, among other rows over tax dollars. The exit off Interstate 85 to get to his facility is now known as “Bruton Smith Boulevard.”

He’s also a skilled promoter, and knows how to pick a fight and stir a pot.

Whether he’s serious about buying his local NFL franchise remains to be seen, but Smith has clearly taken a swipe at Richardson after last week’s deal to accept more than $200 million of state and local assistance to upgrade Bank of America Stadium.

18 responses to “NASCAR magnate says he’d buy Panthers “if the price is right”

  1. Just what the league needs. Another owner born in the 1920’s.

    Chan Gailey, however, is very excited by the possibility of there being another owner in the NFL who would consider him a young up and comer.

  2. Bruton Smith has a track record of being NASCAR fans’ beat friend. The guy bring unbelievable pre race festivities and upgraded tracks to be more fan friendly. Google Las Vegas Neon Garage. The guy would be an awesome owner for an NFL franchise and people in the Charlotte area already love him.

  3. So Smith is older than Richardson (yeah, I know Richardson isn’t in the best of health), and we’re talking about Richardson’s anticipated passing?

    So what happens when Smith passes on?

  4. Sounds like a good man, but father time is knocking on his door too. And I’m not sure a conservative town like Charlotte would mesh well with his braggard personality.

    Not that I’m an ageist or anything but aren’t there any younger candidates though? Seems like almost every owner has white hair or balding.

  5. More fleecing of the taxpayers with the recent $144 million deal in Charlotte. That money would be better spent on things people need: roads, schools, water/sewer, etc. Just more welfare for billionaires in America.

  6. I like what Smith might bring as an NFL owner, he’s much more of showman than any other NFL owner, however, isn’t it funny he now claims that he’d not ask for any stadium money after the issue is mostly settled in Charlotte ?? Why not make that claim before the city was approached for renevation money ??

  7. If the price is right? That reminds me of the offer Joss Whedon made for the Terminator franchise a couple years ago: pocket change. Means nothing.

  8. I know it won’t happen, but I’d a rather another former player bought the team. With Richardson owning the panthers and Jordan owning the bobcats, it’s a neat thing.

  9. He’s a grandstanding hothead. He and Richardson are extreme opposites. We need somebody more moderate. This guy would pull his team off the field, any given Sunday.

  10. The team will belong to Johnny Harris when Jerry decides to let it go if Johnny wants it. Think he has a minority interest now. But, his age is a factor too.

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