With Lowe's in Wheeler's rearview, Humpy moves forward

5/24/2008 - NASCAR
Humpy Wheeler ends a 32-year run as president and general manager at Lowe's Motor Speedway. AP Photo/Terry Renna

ESPN.com NASCAR writer David Newton asked famed promoter H.A. (Humpy) Wheeler to jot down a few thoughts prior to Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 -- his last race working at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Here's his open letter to our readers:

To ESPN.com:

While I am not leaving the sport, I take a painful stage left here at this great speedway after 32 years as well as our company Speedway Motorsports, of which I have served as president since we became a public company in 1995.

It was my idea to retire from the company after a number of disagreements with my close associate Bruton Smith, who is the chairman of the company and its chief stockholder. But, hey, many of you have such tiffs with your boss. This one is hard, however, because I have poured my heart and soul into making this speedway one of the best in the world.

When I told him I wanted to retire, he wanted it done swiftly, but that wasn't the way I wanted to end it. Heck, it takes me two months just to answer my mail and write thank-you letters after the race. But he said three days after the race, so that was it.

He offered me a small remuneration for a "consulting" agreement so I could get my stock options, which were underwater anyway, but I declined because I had to sign a very restrictive agreement, which I was advised against doing.

At any rate, I am to be gone Wednesday, and it is too bad because I probably would have stayed longer given the right situation.
But I am looking forward to the next stage in my life, which includes a book with a major author about a unique look at racing, a TV show, and guest lecturing at Belmont Abbey College's motorsports management program near Charlotte.

I will also get involved in NASCAR in other ways. Just haven't made up my mind about how yet.

At any rate, you bet I'll keep up with the American sports scene through ESPN.com as well as the network.

I also want to thank the millions who have bought tickets and watched our events on TV and for their loyalty and interest in our sport. Without them, we are nothing.

-- H.A. (Humpy) Wheeler