BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Larry Carrier, who helped start the race
track now known as Bristol Motor Speedway, died Tuesday after a
long illness. He was 82.
A developer, Carrier worked with Carl Moore and R.G. Pope in
building the half-mile oval track, which opened in 1961.
Carrier bought the track out of bankruptcy in 1985, gave ESPN
exclusive rights to broadcast Bristol's night race for years, and
built the seating capacity to 71,000 before selling the track to
Bruton Smith in 1996 for $26 million.
Bristol now seats 160,000 and hosts two NASCAR Nextel Cup races
Carrier and Moore also built the Bristol International Dragway
and started their own sanctioning body, the International Hot Rod
Association, in 1965. The dragway was part of the sale in 1996.
Jeff Byrd, president and general manager of Bristol, called
Carrier a leader in the racing industry whose contributions were
"He had the foresight to know that NASCAR was going to be
something big and he went out and built one of the greatest
facilities of that time in 1961," Byrd said.
"He will certainly be missed by all that were fortunate enough
to know him or work with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with
Shirley and the entire Carrier family."
Carrier is a member of both the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
and the Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
He is survived by his wife, Shirley, and four children.
Carrier's funeral was scheduled for Thursday at 8 p.m. at First
Baptist Church in Blountville, with burial on Friday.