CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Billionaire and NASCAR giant Bruton Smith is just one day away from finding out if he's been voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but he says he knows what has kept him out in the past... jealousy.
The North Carolina native owns eight NASCAR tracks, including the Charlotte Motor Speedway, and has billions of dollars invested in racing. But he says that may not be enough.
"It's a mean old... it's called jealousy," he told WBTV's Paul Cameron. "I think that I've been confronted with that many, many, many times. Sometimes jealousy causes people to do strange things. Maybe they don't use the best part of their brain."
Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc. chief executive officer and chairman of the board has long been a pioneer in motorsports, dating back to the 1950s, when he was the promoter at tracks such as the old Charlotte Speedway and the Shelby Speedway located at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds.
Smith's first major speedway endeavor began when he partnered with racing legend Curtis Turner to open Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1960 and held the first World 600 that year.
He says he thinks the Hall of Fame system was flawed in its set-up.
"I'm gonna be totally honest with you. I didn't like the way this whole thing was set up. I didn't think it was done properly, in my opinion," he said. "I think that the people that would elect the people that would serve - go in - should have been very, very independent of everybody and that didn't occur. It lost a lot as far as I was concerned."
Smith says he feels that the Hall of Fame made a big misstep when former driver David Pearson was not selected as a member of the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame.
"As soon as that happened, I went to David and said 'David, I want to apologize to everybody with this sport.' I said 'You should have been there' and he should have been named."
Pearson ended his career in 1986, and currently holds the second position on NASCAR's all-time win list with 105 victories.
"He was a hero in our sport," Smith said. "So I apologized to David Pearson for that not happening."
Pearson was named to the 2011 class in the NASCAR Hall of Fame and inducted on May 23, 2011.
In the past, Smith has set that he didn't care that he hadn't been nominated for the Hall of Fame, but has that changed?
"I don't know," he told WBTV. "One thing I can say is my family - they like the idea - but I think that you gotta earn your way in these things, as some of these drivers have."
On Wednesday, a 54-member Voting Panel, which includes the entire Nominating Committee, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners and crew chiefs) and recognized industry leaders, will gather in uptown Charlotte to vote on the Hall of Fame's 2014 inductees.
In addition, the fan vote will result in the Voting Panel's final ballot.
Smith has previously been inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (2007), National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame (2006) and Texas Motorsports Hall of fame (2008).
So what has kept him out of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, in Charlotte?
"Well, I don't know," he said. "I guess I could answer that with some opinions. I think that your Hall of Fame is something that should be entrusted to people without an agenda. That's what I thought. I think that was a problem."
"I've built a lot of things. I've bought speedways, torn them down and re-did them, like Bristol," he continued. "As I was buying speedways, I didn't just buy them, but we committed. Right now, we have about a $4 billion investment in what I'm doing, which is a lot of money.
Some would say that alone should get him into the Hall of Fame."
"That's an opinion and I don't think they should rely on mine. I think it should be people without an agenda - let them assess the situation and whoever should belong, should belong. Anyone that shouldn't - don't put them in the Hall of Fame."