Howard Augustine "Humpy" Wheeler, Jr., is the immediate past president and general manager of NASCAR's Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS), one of the premier auto racing venues. Better known as "Humpy," he is the most decorated promoter in NASCAR auto racing, and helped transform the 1.5-mile superspeedway into one of the world's leading sports facilities. Humpy is a member of nine Halls of Fame, including the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
During Humpy's tenure at CMS, the speedway's seating capacity grew from 75,000 to 167,000. In 1992, Charlotte Motor Speedway became the first modern superspeedway to host night racing with the addition of a $1.7-million lighting system. Under Wheeler's direction, the speedway was also the first to offer extensive VIP suites, condominiums and extravagant pre-race entertainment.
Wheeler was part of another motorsports first in 1995 when the speedway went public with Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (NYSE:TRK), the first publicly traded motorsports company on the New York Stock Exchange. Today, Speedway Motorsports operates facilities in Atlanta, Bristol, Charlotte, New Hampshire, Las Vegas, Forth Worth and Sears Point, CA. It also owns and operates 600 Racing, the manufacturer of Legends Cars, Bandoleros and Thunder Roadsters, and SMI Properties, which provides souvenir merchandising services. Lowe's Motor Speedway is the flagship of SMI and hosts more major events than any other motorsports facility in the world.
Humpy is Chairman of The Wheeler Company, a management consulting firm focused on professional sports, motorsports and general business. He founded the company with his son, Trip Wheeler, and daughter Patti Wheeler.
Born in Belmont, N.C., Wheeler attended the University of South Carolina on a football scholarship and graduated in 1961 with a degree in journalism. Prior to joining Lowe's Motor Speedway, Wheeler worked as a sports writer, a television director, a real estate manager and a dirt track promoter. He also served as director of racing at Firestone Rubber & Tire Co. during its most visible years in the sport.
Wheeler has been extremely active in civic affairs both on the local and national levels. A past chairman of the Charlotte Convention & Visitors Bureau, he has also served on the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, and on the board of Charlotte Catholic Services, Mercy Hospital, the Boy Scouts of America and the National Head Injury Foundation.
He currently serves on the board for Belmont Abbey College, the National Motorsports Council and the Governor's Sports Commission. He also serves on the President's Advisory Committee at the University of South Carolina and is a trustee of Speedway Children's Charities.
Wheeler has been honored with numerous awards including the Belmont Abbey Grace Award, the Charlotte Chamber's Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1999, the Charlotte Public Relations Society Infinity Award, the National Auto Racing Promoter of the Year Award, the North Carolina Travel Attractions Award, the Charles J. Parker Award for the person who contributed the most tourism to the state of the North Carolina, the Hugh Deery Memorial Award for outstanding service to the motorsports industry, the Humanitarian Award by the Charlotte Athletic Club, the Order of the Longleaf & Pine by the Governor of North Carolina and the Bill France Award for outstanding achievement in auto racing given by Pocono Raceway. While a student at the University of South Carolina, Wheeler was a member of the varsity football team and an amateur boxer, compiling a 40-2 record in Golden Gloves competition. He was inducted into the Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992 and is also a member of the Belmont Hall of Fame and the World Karting Association Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in May and became a member of the N.C. Public Relations Hall of Fame in April.
Wheeler and his wife, Pat, reside on Mt. Island Lake in Huntersville, N.C. They have three grown children. Wheeler is a member of St. Mark's Catholic Church in Huntersville, N.C., and a member of the Knights of Malta.
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