NASCAR driver Austin Dillon held a football as Panthers kicker Graham Gano kicked field goals on the Charlotte Motor Speedway front stretch on Wednesday May 4, 2016 during an appearance at the Speedway promoting the upcoming 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder. Afterwards, Dillon gave Gano a ride around the speedway in a race car.
NASCAR driver Austin Dillon held a football as Panthers kicker Graham Gano kicked field goals on the Charlotte Motor Speedway front stretch on Wednesday May 4, 2016 during an appearance at the Speedway promoting the upcoming 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder. Afterwards, Dillon gave Gano a ride around the speedway in a race car.

Carolina Panthers

Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith: We’d be interested in buying Panthers

May 04, 2016 06:17 PM

UPDATED May 05, 2016 07:35 AM

CONCORD

Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO and Charlotte Motor Speedway general manager Marcus Smith, during a Wednesday interview with the Observer, affirmed what his father said last month: The Smiths would be interested in eventually purchasing the Carolina Panthers.

Bruton Smith, a billionaire track owner and recent NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, told Motorsport.com last month that his sons want him to buy the NFL franchise when it becomes available.

The younger Smith said there’s definitely interest.

“It’s just one of those things where it’s not even on the market,” Marcus Smith said Wednesday. “Would we be interested? Yeah. It would be an incredible opportunity and such a neat opportunity and property for anybody to be able to shepherd into the future.

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“We’re in the sports entertainment world now and we love what we do, and (I) think it’d be fun to do more of it.”

Panthers owner/founder Jerry Richardson, 79, revealed the succession plan in 2013. The Panthers are to be sold less than two years after the death of Richardson, who had heart replacement surgery in 2009 and shoulder surgery this spring.

Richardson and his partners paid $206 million to bring the franchise to the Carolinas in the early 1990s. Forbes now values the team at more than $1.5 billion.

“Would I buy them? I’ve got some boys that want me to, and so we may – on a weak moment – we might would do that,” Bruton Smith, 89, told Motorsport.com.

He has made similar overtures before. In 2013, after the succession plan was revealed, Smith said on WBT-AM radio that he’d be interested in buying the Panthers “if the price is right.”

Smith’s other son, B. Scott Smith, is the CEO of Sonic Automotive, a group of car dealerships that brought in net income from continuing operations of $88 million in 2015.

Marcus Smith said he went to Santa Clara, Calif., in February for Super Bowl 50 and goes to as many home games as he can. He called the Panthers a “great franchise and a great hometown team.”

“I think that we … I love the sports entertainment world,” Marcus Smith said. “We love wowing fans and love to entertain people from all over the world.

“If we have an opportunity to expand what we do, it’s certainly something that I would always be interested in.”

Jonathan Jones: 704-358-5323, @jjones9