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George W. Bush

Bush writes NASCAR racing legend O. Bruton Smith about the Texas Motor Speedway:

“I can see why you are proud of your facility—it is magnificent.”

George Walker Bush, 1946–.  43rd President of the United States, 2001–2009.  Autograph Letter Signed, George W. Bush, two pages (recto and verso), 7” x 5”, on personal note card imprinted with the Texas governorʼs seal, [Austin, Texas], March 29, 1999.  With original mailing envelope.

Bush did not inherit his father’s penchant for writing letters and notes.  While President George H. W. Bush’s handwritten material, especially notes, is common, holograph material of President George W. Bush is very scarce.  Our survey of auction results when we listed this letter found only ten handwritten letters that had been offered for sale.

In this beautiful letter, written some three months before he would formally announce that he would be a candidate for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, then-Texas Governor Bush thanks NASCAR legend O. Bruton Smith for his hospitality during Bush’s visit to the 1999 Primestar 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth the day before.  Bush—who waved the green flag to start the race—writes, in full:  “Thank you kindly for your hospitality yesterday.  I can see why you are proud of your facility—it is magnificent.  The entire event was very special and historic.  /  It was pleasure to have met your family—  /  Thanks again.”

Smith (1927–), a native of North Carolina, is a member of both the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  He has been involved in motorsports since the sport began in the 1940s and has been a leader in motorsports innovation.  He is the Executive Chairman of the Board and the former chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., which, through subsidiaries, owns eight racing facilities:  the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway, and Texas Motor Speedway. 

The Texas Motor Speedway is a 1,500-acre facility that opened in 1996.  The 1.5-mile track, which was reconfigured in 1998, has a 2,250-foot frontstretch and 1,330-foot backstretch.  The facility has total permanent seating for 128,655 people, with a total estimated capacity of 181,655.

The Primestar 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway was the sixth race of the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup series.  Texas native Terry Labonte, who won the Winston Cup in 1996 and finished sixth in both 1995 and 1997, won the 1999 Primestar 500.  Driving Hendrick Motorsports’ # 5, a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Labonte led 124 of the 334 laps to move from his fourth-place start to capture the lead and the checkered flag.  The Primestar 500 was his only Winston Cup victory in 1999.  He finished in the top ten in seven races but finished twelfth overall in the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings, the first time since 1993 that he had finished outside the top ten.  He won the 1999 NASCAR All-Star Race.

Bush announced in June 1999 that he would seek the 2000 Republican presidential nomination.  His early opponents included Arizona Senator John McCain, who ultimately became his strongest rival, and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, publisher Steve Forbes, former Vice President Dan Quayle, conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan, and former Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole.  Bush won the nomination with 99.6% of the delegates, although the primary race was not nearly as lopsided.  In the general election, Bush and former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney defeated Vice President Al Gore and Senator Joe Lieberman, and Bush became the 43rd President of the United States.  He was reelected in 2004.

Bush has written and signed this letter in black felt-tip pen.  The textured card bears the gold imprinted seal of the Governor of Texas and Bush’s name printed in black beneath the seal.  In a nod to the political nature of everything a candidate does, the note card bears a small, printed legend stating that it was “not printed or mailed at taxpayer expense” and that it was a “political advertisement paid for by Governor Bush Committee.”  The envelope is addressed and marked “Personal” in another hand, and the name “Governor George W. Bush” is written above the printed return address in another hand as well.  The envelope bears a 33¢ United States stamp and is postmarked March 29, 1999, at Austin, Texas.

The card is in extra fine condition.  The envelope has been carefully opened at the top edge and is in very fine condition.




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