UPDATE: Felix Sabates, a Charlotte businessman who is part of a local group exploring a bid for the Carolina Panthers, said Wednesday he is talking to the Smith motorsports family about joining his group.
Bruton Smith is executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports, the Concord-based operator of Charlotte Motor Speedway and other tracks, and his son, Marcus, is the CEO. In the past, they both have expressed interest in buying Charlotte's NFL team if it ever came up for sale.
Sabates said he has talked with Marcus Smith, and "they are very interested in joining our group."
Through a Charlotte Motor Speedway spokesman, Marcus Smith declined to comment.
Sabates said his group, which started with five businessmen, has added two race car drivers whom he declined to name. Sabates, a car dealer and longtime fixture on the Charlotte sports scene, has said he is not the majority owner by a "long shot." His group also includes two of the team's existing minority owners, he has said, although he has declined to name them as well.
--- Charlotte Observer ---
Original Post 12/23/2017: With almost 90 percent of all NASCAR teams based in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, there have been numerous rumors spreading throughout about the potential of certain NASCAR stakeholders having interest in buying the Carolina Panthers.
In early 2016, Bruton Smith, executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., expressed possible interest in having Panthers ownership. However, a spokesperson for the Smith family declined comment for discussing interest in ownership of the franchise when Richardson announced selling the franchise.
Over the previous week, Felix Sabates' name arose as a possible buyer for the Panthers. Sabates currently has minority ownership in Chip Ganassi Racing and a minority ownership role in the Charlotte Hornets, the region's National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise.
Sabates is currently spearheading a team of investors to go in and buy Richardson's stake in the Panthers. According to local news, the group of investors is made up of business professionals who live in the Charlotte area that have a "major presence" within the city.
"They're not looking to make money. They're looking for appreciation long term," Sabates said. "For us, staying in this community, staying in this TV market, is very important."
--- Kickin the Tires ---