The man who helped bring NASCAR back to Texas has died. Eddie Gossage was a character.

The man who was an architect of NASCAR’s return to Texas, and responsible for so much of the old-school marketing and promotion of auto racing in the state for more than 20 years, has died.

Former Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage died on Thursday afternoon, his wife, Melinda, confirmed. He was 65.

Friends close to Gossage said the cancer he originally defeated years ago had come back.

Eddie retired from his position at TMS in the summer of 2021. He had occupied his role at TMS for 25 years, and in his tenure he did something that virtually no one in his position at any track ever has. People all over the nation knew Eddie Gossage.

He did it through tirelessly promoting NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway by just about any means necessary. From the sincere to the silly, he wanted people to love racing as much as he did. Specifically, he loved NASCAR and Indy Car. Eddie was never an Formula 1 guy.

Eddie was raised in an era of NASCAR promotion when the power behind the sport was Winston cigarettes and R.J. Reynolds tobacco.

Before Eddie came to Fort Worth to lead TMS, he worked at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Eddie was groomed by some of the legendary men in NASCAR promotions; men such as the late Ralph Seagraves, T. Wayne Robertson, Humpy Wheeler, Jeff Bird and Bruton Smith. You may not know all of those names, but in the history of NASCAR their sphere of influence is a major reason why the brand grew out of its Southeast roots.

That era of NASCAR racing was built through a series of colorful characters, namely Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt and a handful of other names from a bygone era.

Eddie had as much color as all of those characters; he never took himself too seriously, and he loved a good debate about sports, promotions and politics.

“The only way I know how to compete with others is to make as much noise as I can make so people pay attention to us,” Gossage said in an interview with the Star-Telegram in 2021. “How do you do that? A monkey selling souvenir programs. Scoring tower blows over (which happened), and the first thing you do is call the media and the second thing you do is make sure the power is off so no one gets electrocuted.”

He wasn’t kidding.

In an empty prairie, TMS opened in 1997, and became the second-largest track in the United States, behind the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

During the track’s construction, Gossage would constantly call Bruton Smith, the founder and owner of Speedway Motorsports, to tell him that more seats had been sold. That more suites had been sold. Seats and suites that didn’t exist. So they just kept adding more.

When NASCAR raced at TMS in Fort Worth in 1997, it was the series’ first race in Texas since 1981.

There was a period when TMS was one of the biggest races on the circuit. NASCAR eventually added a second TMS date to its schedule, and Indy Car was a staple on the track’s calendar.

In TMS’ greatest era of relevance, Eddie even proposed that the venue could hold a football game. On the front stretch at TMS, there is a large area of grass big enough for a football field.

When the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma were negotiating with the city of Dallas about the future of the Red River rivalry football game at the Cotton Bowl, Eddie had that TMS grass painted to be a football field, complete with UT and OU logos in the end zone.

Then-Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds didn’t find it funny.

Eddie eventually became a one-man name in American motor sports. There was one “Eddie.”

When Indy Car driver Danica Patrick was at her most popular, Eddie was asked to get in touch with her for a potential project. He called her, and her first words were, “How did you get this number?”

“Listen” he told Patrick, “I’m Eddie Gossage. I can get anyone’s number.”

As the years clicked by this century and the popularity of auto racing, and specifically NASCAR, started to slide, Eddie still loved the sport but he was frustrated with the changes. Changes both in racing and the company that owned TMS.

He was an old school promoter, and this era of racing, and promoting, is different. He was close with Bruton Smith, and once he stepped down from his position Eddie knew it was time.

Eddie retired for no reason other than he was excited to watch the races from home and to spend time with Melinda, their kids, Jessica and Dustin, daughter-in-law Lauren, and grandchildren Lyra, Evelyn and Oliver.

As much fun as Eddie had in his job, he loved the current chapter of his life just as much if not more.

NASCAR reached its greatest heights thanks to so many people, Eddie Gossage among them. He didn’t necessarily make the sport, but he made it fun and colorful.