Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage is stepping down after overseeing the track since it opened 24 years ago.
The 62-year-old Gossage said Thursday that his final event will be NASCAR's All-Star race on June 13, the first at TMS. He said that will be a full-circle moment for his 32 years working for Speedway Motorsports and Bruton Smith.
Gossage was a young public relations director at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1992 when, during a news conference to promote the first NASCAR All-Star race to run at night, one of his stunts literally set Smith's hair on fire. When Smith threw the giant light switch rigged by Gossage to highlight the Charlotte speedway's new lighting system, sparks flew.
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"I thought I was headed for the unemployment line for sure," Gossage said. "But for some reason, Bruton kept me around, and it wasn't long after that he gave me an opportunity I could have only dreamed of."
When Smith built Texas Motor Speedway, which opened in 1997, Gossage was the track's general manager. He added the title of TMS president in 2004 and is one of the longest-tenured employees at Speedway Motorsports.
Gossage previously worked for Nashville International Raceway, Bristol International Raceway and Miller Brewing Co. in motorsports management and public relations capacities. He joined Speedway Motorsports in 1989 at Charlotte.
Smith said Gossage has been a a promoter, friend and an asset to the entire industry.
"When I built Texas Motor Speedway, I had plenty of architects, accountants and attorneys, but what I really needed was promotion," Smith said. "That's where Eddie came in. They say `everything's bigger in Texas', and I needed a big personality in Dallas/Fort Worth. Eddie's become a shrewd businessman over the years, but he's remained a publicist at heart, and he never forgot what the entertainment business is about, having fun."
Gossage shared the following letter with friends and supporters Thursday:
The time has come for me to step down as President and General Manager of Texas Motor Speedway. It will have been my distinct pleasure to have headed up this speedway from its inception in 1994 through the NASCAR All-Star Race in June. Growing up in a blue-collar middle-class family to building and running one of the world’s biggest sports venues is a reality that has far exceeded my dreams.
I have met Presidents and world leaders. Astronauts and scholars. World-famous athletes, musicians, and actors. Millionaires and billionaires. And Bruton Smith is the greatest man I’ve ever met. I thank God I met Bruton and he selected me to head up Texas Motor Speedway. His continued trust in me is an honor I consider one of the most cherished relationships two men could possibly enjoy. I have no doubt Marcus Smith will continue to ensure Texas Motor Speedway will remain one of the leading venues in the world of motorsports.
I have been incredibly blessed to work with some of the most professional, hardest-working, innovative people over the last 27 years. I have been honored to come to work with them every day. I truly love those people. And I am especially proud of my “coaching tree,” in auto racing. The roots run deep into sanctioning bodies, race tracks, and auto racing sponsors throughout the sport. In fact, a number of folks that have been entrusted with important leadership roles for Speedway Motorsports learned the business at Texas Motor Speedway. I feel a sense of ownership in their accomplishments.
And finally, but most importantly, it has been my greatest thrill serving our fans all these years. Literally millions and millions of fans have come through the gates at Texas Motor Speedway. I’ve been honored to get to know many of them. I’m always amazed that they bring me gifts, tell me they are praying for me or want another photo together. What a privileged and special relationship.
As I said, I’m stepping down. It is time. I’m not finished. It’s just time for me to move on from Texas Motor Speedway.
Thank you for your friendship, support, and help all these many, many years. Texas Motor Speedway has been a spectacular adventure. My life has truly exceeded my dreams.
May God bless you.