Born: May 24, 1924 Died: October 17, 2001
(Congestive Heart Failure)
Born: Metropolis, Illinois Home: Sandy Springs,
moved to Georgia when he was two years old. He
worked at a service station in the 1940s near Roswell. He began racing
against local bootleggers on rough dirt tracks and asphalt
superspeedways, and across fields.
He made his debut in NASCAR's first race in 1949 at
the Charlotte Speedway and finished 13th. He is remembered for flipping
his car five time and rolling into the parking lot at a 1954 race at
Darlington. He won the NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award in 1959. He
went to win 21 races over the next 14 years. He died from congestive
heart failure in 2001.
'A man's man,' Smith raced and lived hard
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- One of the early
stars of NASCAR, Jack Smith has died. He was
78. A native of Metropolis, Ill., Smith died
Smith won 21 NASCAR races over a 15-year
career and was a member of the National
Motorsports Press Hall of Fame in
"Daddy raced in the rough
and tough days," said his son, Jackie, who
said his father died of congestive heart
failure. "He was a man's man. He drove hard.
He had broad shoulders, big arms. They raced
and they fought back then."
Smith's love of racing began in Georgia in
the 1940s when he worked at a service
station near Roswell. He began running
against local bootleggers across fields, on
rough dirt tracks and asphalt superspeedways.
Smith won his first race
at Martinsville Speedway in 1956, won the
Most Popular Driver Award in 1959 and moved
to Spartanburg in 1960 to work with
legendary team owner Bud Moore. His
21 wins are 24th all-time.
"Jack was a hell of a
competitor," Moore said. "Jack was a good
race driver back in his day. In his time, he
was about as good as any of them that come
One of Smith's more
memorable races was a loss when his car
tumbled over the wall at the Darlington
Raceway in 1954, as he tried to chase down
race leader Fireball Roberts. He
flipped five times and landed in the parking
"It was hard life,"
Jackie Smith said. "It was barely making
ends meet. They all had jobs during the
week. It wasn't for the money that they
raced. It was for the love of the sport."
Jackie Smith said his
father will be inducted into the Daytona
Beach Hall of Fame in February.
Smith is survived by his
wife, Betty DeLay, three sons and two
Living Legends of Auto Racing:
looked at NASCAR's list of top 50 drivers of all time, but I did
not see the name of Jack Smith. The list was chock full of good
racers but very absent of one of the best. I called Jack at his
transmission shop in Spartanburg, S.C. and asked to stop by to
see him. I wanted to know exactly what I was missing that NASCAR
apparently was not.
Jack was born in Illinois but moved to Georgia when he was two.
His first race was at Thomaston, Georgia in 1946. He
explained, "I used to watch those guys before the war out
Lakewood and knew I could do that. When I got old enough I
entered a race in Thomaston. I qualified second to defending
national champion Roy Hall but after the race started I spun out
a whole bunch so I knew I had some learning ahead of me."
When I asked Jack to name the best driver in the stable of
Raymond Parks, (Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Bill France, Bob and Fonty
Flock, Red Byron, and Norman Wrigley), he replied, "It would be
hard to pick becuse they had such good equipment with Red Vogt
working on the cars. A lot of drivers would have won under those
circumstances, but I'd say Bob flock was the best of the group."
JACK SMITH FAST
the National Motorsports Press Hall of Fame
the Daytona Beach Hall of Fame
Most Popular Driver Award
Season:4th - 1962 (Grand National)
Race: 1949 (Charlotte Speedway) (NASCAR's first
race - Interesting
1964 Sunshine 200 (Savannah)
1956 Old Dominion 400 (Martinsville)
Win: 1960 Firecracker
250: Grand National (race
number 23 of 44)
July 4, 1960 at Daytona International
Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL
100 laps on a 2.500 mile paved track (250.0
Time of race: 1:42:09
Average Speed: 146.842 mph
Pole Speed: 152.129 mph Cautions:
none Margin of Victory: 30 feet
Last Win: 1962
Winner 1960 Daytona Firecracker 250
The first race
.......The more things change ... well, you know
By Al Pearce Daily
Press March 15,
1: "Big Bill" France scheduled
NASCAR's first-ever Winston Cup race in the
backyard of the man challenging him for control
of American stock car racing after World War II.
The time and place: Sunday afternoon,
June 19, 1949, at the three-quarter mile dirt
The rivals: France and Olin Bruton
Smith. The same Bruton Smith who currently
owns six NASCAR tracks. And he's still scrapping
with "Big Bill's" sons and grandchildren over
all matters great and small. Oh, the sweet irony
of it all.
France had founded NASCAR in Daytona Beach,
Fla., in December of 1948. He aimed to unify the
handful of sanctioning bodies that emerged when
Detroit began building new cars after the war.
He correctly figured that his target audience -
primarily Southern farmers and factory workers -
preferred street-legal, family sedans over
unrecognizable Indy-style "championship cars" or
Farther north, Smith had the same idea. He had
founded the National Stock Car Racing
Association and was battling France and NASCAR
for drivers, cars, fans and publicity. France
saw Smith as a threat - sound familiar? - but
chose to go right at him instead of bobbing and
Which is why France chose to introduce his
fledgling "Strictly Stock" class (later Grand
National, then Cup) in Smith's
hometown of Charlotte. The race would go for 200
laps. The purse was an unimaginable $5,000,
including $2,000 for the winner and $1,000 for
Bob Flock won the pole on Saturday and
led the 33-car field to the flag the next day.
Nobody realized it at the time, but that moment
was the birth of stock car racing in this
"To most everybody, it was just a bunch of
people having a race," said racing legend
Richard Petty. He was 9 at the time, much
too young to appreciate what was happening.
"There wasn't any schedule back then. The race
just showed up and everybody drove down there
for it. They wouldn't let me in the pits, so I
sold programs in the infield.
"Daddy (the late Lee Petty) borrowed a
friend's '48 Buick and drove it to a Texaco
station near the track. He and Uncle Julian
changed the oil, greased it, gassed it and went
racing. Daddy ran about halfway before the
right-rear blew and rolled it over. They used a
rollback to get it back to Greensboro the next
day. I don't know they explained the wrecked car
to the guy they'd borrowed it from. I'm sure
Daddy made it good, but I don't remember ever
hearing about it."
Flock led the first five laps in his Hudson,
Bill Blair led 6-150 in his Lincoln and
Glenn Dunnaway led the rest in a Ford.
Hours later, Chief Inspector Al Crisler
disqualified Dunnaway. Rules clearly prohibited
modifications, but owner Hubert Westmoreland
had shored up the chassis by spreading the rear
springs, a favorite trick of bootleggers looking
to improve traction and handling. Instead of
Dunnaway, the victory went to Lincoln driver
Jim Roper. The Kansas native had been scored
second, three laps behind. Fonty Flock, Red
Byron, Sam Rice and Tim Flock rounded
out the top five. Westmoreland was so incensed
by the DQ that he sued NASCAR. A North Carolina
judge threw it out, the first of many times
France and NASCAR have carried the day.
a few drivers in that first race left a
recognizable footprint on NASCAR.
They included the Flock brothers,
Byron, Lee Petty, Curtis Turner, Buck Baker,
Jim Paschal and Herb Thomas. Sara
Christian started 13th and ran well until
tiring and yielding her Ford to Bob Flock.
By almost any measure, the race was a success.
One NASCAR official estimated the crowd at
22,500, but France, who was mindful that drivers
and the taxman were watching, quickly readjusted
it to 13,000. Whatever the actual count, France
was pleased enough to schedule races later that
summer at Daytona Beach, Fla., Hillsboro, N.C.,
Langhorne, Pa., Hamburg, N.Y., Martinsville,
Pittsburgh, Pa., and North Wilkesboro, N.C.
"The next race came up just like that first one
had," Richard Petty said. "It was, 'OK, this
worked out pretty good, so let's go race down in
Daytona Beach next month.' Back then, there
wasn't much planning. Things just seemed to
Field of dreams: We
create our fantasy grid by selecting the greatest
drivers in NASCAR history - National Association for
Stock Car Auto Racing
43. Jack Smith:
One of stock-car racing's first stars, Smith won 21
races in 15 years. A service station worker in Georgia,
he began racing against local bootleggers across fields,
on ragged dirt tracks, and on asphalt speedways. Smith,
who died in 2001, won his first race at Martinsville in
1956. He was voted NASCAR's most popular driver in 1959.
Smith is a member of the Daytona Beach Hall of Fame and
the National Motorsports Press Hall of Fame in
ALL-TIME STARTING GRID
1. Dale Earnhardt
2. Richard Petty
3. David Pearson
4. Darrell Waltrip
5. Jeff Gordon
6. Cale Yarborough
7. Bobby Allison
8. Junior Johnson
9. Ned Jarrett
10. Lee Petty*
11. Fireball Roberts
12. Buck Baker*
13. Tim Flock*
14. Herb Thomas*
15. Joe Weatherly
16. Rusty Wallace
17. Harry Gant
18. Benny Parsons
19. Bill Elliott
20. Bobby Isaac
21. Dale Jarrett
22. Fred Lorenzen
23. Terry Labonte
24. Davey Allison
25. Tony Stewart
26. Ricky Rudd
27. Mark Martin
28. Curtis Turner*
29. Neil Bonnett
30. Buddy Baker
31. Rex White
32. Marvin Panch
33. LeeRoy Yarbrough
34. Alan Kulwicki
35. Fonty Flock*
36. Jim Paschal
37. Herschel McGriff
38. Tiny Lund
39. Geoffrey Bodine
40. Speedy Thompson
41. Red Byron*
42. Tim Richmond
43. Jack Smith*
* All participated in the very first NASCAR race - TRUE Pioneers!
Autographed picture. What a Trophy!
Strictly Stock / Grand National
Talk About Consistency!
Top 5 in 36% of the races entered!
Top 10 in 54% of races entered!
||Old Dominion 400
||Hub City Speedway
||Hub City Speedway
||New Concord Speedway
||New Concord Speedway
||Charlotte (1960 season)
||Concord Speedway (1962 season)
||New Asheville Speedway
||New Asheville Speedway
Copyright © 2003
by Roland Via. All rights reserved. Revised:
04/08/20 18:48:14 -0400.
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