Birthplace of Speed
Fireball Roberts




Jack Smith
May 24, 1924      Died: October 17, 2001 (Congestive Heart Failure)
Born: Metropolis, Illinois    Home: Sandy Springs, GA

Jack Smith 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.


Friday, October 19, 2001
'A man's man,' Smith raced and lived hard
Associated Press

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- One of the early stars of NASCAR, Jack Smith has died. He was 78. A native of Metropolis, Ill., Smith died Wednesday.

Smith won 21 NASCAR races over a 15-year career and was a member of the National Motorsports Press Hall of Fame in Darlington.

"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."

Jack 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 along."Jack Smith Dantone Plymouth. One of the hard days . . . .

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 lot.

"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 daughters.

From the Living Legends of Auto Racing:

Jack Smith loved the power of the Studebaker. Here at BirminghamI 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

Jack Smith sliding in the turn at Macon in the 1940's explained, "I used to watch those guys before the war out

 at 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."


  • Inducted in the National Motorsports Press Hall of Fame

  • Inducted in the Daytona Beach Hall of Fame

  • 1959 NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award

  • Best Points Season:4th - 1962 (Grand National)

  • First NASCAR Race: 1949 (Charlotte Speedway) (NASCAR's first race - Interesting Story Below)

  • Last Race: 1964 Sunshine 200 (Savannah)

  • First Win: 1956 Old Dominion 400 (Martinsville)

  • Most Important 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 miles)
    Time of race: 1:42:09         Average Speed: 146.842 mph
    Pole Speed:
    152.129 mph  Cautions: none  Margin of Victory: 30 feet
    Attendance: 15,919

  • Last Win: 1962 (New Ashville)

Winner 1960 Daytona Firecracker 250

The first race     .......The more things change ... well, you know the rest.
By Al Pearce      Daily Press      March 15, 2003

Jack Smith with the legendary Curtis TurnerExhibit 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 Charlotte Speedway.

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 "roadsters."

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 weaving.

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 the runner-up.

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 country.

"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.

Bud Moore, Buck Baker, Jack Smith - 1960 Firecracker 250Only 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, Jack Smith, 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 happen."


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 Darlington.

 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 Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn Miles
1949 25 1 of 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 50 58   13.0 0.0
1950 26 3 of 19 0 1 1 0 376 55 775 32 12.7 19.3 560.5
1951 27 7 of 41 0 2 2 0 480 0 1,275 39 23.8 22.0 552.2
1952 28 8 of 34 0 0 2 1 883 186 820 34 10.5 16.1 819.8
1954 30 6 of 37 0 0 1 0 381 0 500 64 23.0 18.5 423.3
1955 31 2 of 45 0 0 2 0 386 0 400 141 10.0 7.0 193.0
1956 32 15 of 56 1 1 6 0 2669 234 3,825 21 19.6 18.0 1915.5
1957 33 40 of 53 4 17 26 2 6891 428 14,561 5 8.8 9.6 4119.8
1958 34 39 of 51 2 15 21 4 5750 381 12,633 5 8.8 12.5 3711.2
1959 35 21 of 44 4 9 12 3 3594 222 13,289 8 9.3 10.7 2734.9
1960 36 13 of 44 3 7 7 3 2198 514 24,721 14 2.5 12.0 2570.2
1961 37 25 of 52 2 10 14 0 4695 278 21,410 7 10.0 11.2 4097.5
1962 38 51 of 53 5 27 35 7 10781 894 34,748 4 7.6 8.6 7110.0
1963 39 29 of 55 0 4 11 2 5300 25 8,885 24 14.8 17.1 3624.6
1964 40 4 of 62 0 2 2 1 459 20 1,575 81 5.0 14.5 239.5
15 years 264 21 95 142 23 44843 3237 139,467   10.1 12.4 32672.2

Talk About Consistency!
Top 5 in 36% of the races entered!
Top 10 in 54% of races entered!

Win Summary
Date Race Name Track SP Make
1 10/28/1956 Old Dominion 400 Martinsville Speedway 23 Dodge
2 3/3/1957 Concord Speedway Concord Speedway    
3 6/20/1957 Columbia Speedway Columbia Speedway    
4 7/20/1957 Hickory Speedway Hickory Speedway    
5 10/20/1957 North Wilkesboro North Wilkesboro    
6 5/3/1958 Greenville-Pickens Greenville-Pickens    
7 8/2/1958 Bridgehampton Speedway Bridgehampton Speedway    
8 4/4/1959 Columbia Speedway Columbia Speedway    
9 6/5/1959 Hub City Speedway Hub City Speedway    
10 7/26/1959 Charlotte Fairgrounds Charlotte Fairgrounds    
11 10/25/1959 New Concord Speedway New Concord Speedway    
12 11/8/1959 Charlotte (1960 season) Charlotte    
13 2/12/1960 Daytona qualifier Daytona    
14 7/4/1960 Daytona Daytona    
15 6/8/1961 Greenville-Pickens Greenville-Pickens    
16 7/30/1961 Bristol Bristol    
17 11/5/1961 Concord Speedway (1962 season) Concord Speedway    
18 3/17/1962 Savannah Speedway Savannah Speedway    
19 4/21/1962 Rambi Raceway Rambi Raceway    
20 5/5/1962 Hickory Hickory    
21 7/13/1962 New Asheville Speedway New Asheville Speedway    

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