SBD/Issue 168/Sports Industrialists

Wheeler Retiring From Lowe's Motor Speedway, SMI Positions

Wheeler To Step Down At LMS
After Sunday's Coca-Cola 600
Lowe’s Motor Speedway (LMS) President and SMI COO HUMPY WHEELER is retiring from both positions following Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 (SMI). The AP's Jenna Fryer reported it is "not immediately clear who will succeed Wheeler." Candidates include SMI Exec VP/National Sales & Marketing MARCUS SMITH, the son of SMI Chair BRUTON SMITH, and LMS Exec VP/Management & Administration LAURI WILKS (AP, 5/20). In Charlotte, David Poole in a front-page piece reports Wheeler is "working on a deal for a book about his more than 40 years in racing and will likely do more episodes" of "The Humpy Show" for Speed, which aired a one-hour debut in January. Wheeler has been at LMS since '75 and has served as "almost equal parts businessman and ringmaster," During Wheeler's tenure, LMS has "more than doubled its seating capacity to around 160,000," added condominiums in Turn 1 and added the Speedway Club restaurant. New Hampshire Motor Speedway President JERRY GAPPENS said of Wheeler, "He's a combination of DON KING, WALT DISNEY and P.T. BARNUM" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/21).

REAX: In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes, "Most of us think of Humpy as a brilliant salesman whose flashy promotions offer lots of explosions but never blow up. But he's so much more." Wheeler "understands what every businessman should. Customers are not obligated to buy. Promoters are obligated to give them a reason to. So Humpy did" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/21). The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's Poole, in a blog entry, wrote Wheeler has "done enough for his sport that nobody should begrudge him the opportunity to do some things he wants to do" (CHARLOTTE.com, 5/20).

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