IRL: Indy 500: Englishman Could End Long Dry Spell for Smiths at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 3, 2000 - Englishman Guy Smith could make Indianapolis 500 history this year simply by qualifying for the race May 28. After all, not a single Smith has made the starting field for the 83 races held...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 3, 2000 - Englishman Guy Smith could make Indianapolis 500 history this year simply by qualifying for the race May 28. After all, not a single Smith has made the starting field for the 83 races held prior to this year. In fact, you can add six Brickyard 400's and two IROC races and still a Smith is not listed among the qualifiers. Thus 720 different drivers have started the 91 races, and none was named Smith. Yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Smith is the most prominent surname in the United States. But none has answered the starter's flag at Indy, but a few have tried. Mark Smith actually qualified three times - twice in 1993 and once in 1994. Yet the Oregon driver was bumped out on all three occasions. He was ousted twice in '93 and wound up as the first alternate. In '94, he qualified on the third day at 220.683 mph only to be bumped 14 minutes later by Bobby Rahal. Mark Smith returned to the track in his Derrick Walker backup car with 15 minutes remaining on the final qualification day, took the green and crashed in Turn 1. He hasn't been back. The first Smith to come to the Speedway was Steve S. Smith of Jamestown, N.Y., in 1925 and 1927-28. He didn't make it. Carl Smith of Brooklyn, N.Y., tried in 1931 but was too slow. Orville Smith of Dayton, Ohio, practiced in 1934 as did sprint-car driver Al Smith, also of Dayton, in 1967. Then there wasn't another driving Smith until Mark made his appearance in the 1990s. But there was a Smith who helped engineer an Indianapolis victory. Clay Smith was the chief mechanic for Troy Ruttman when he became the race's youngest winner in 1952. A Jim Smithson was listed as the riding mechanic for Leslie Allen in 1930. While there hasn't been a Smith to start in the Indianapolis 500, there have been eight Joneses - Ben, Davy, John, Herbert, Melville, Norman (Bubby), Parnelli and Will. None were related. Guy Smith, 25, has been named as the driver for the #44 March Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone fielded by March Racing International, led by renowned chassis builder Robin Herd. Smith, the first Englishman to come to Indianapolis since former Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell in 1993-94, also is driving in the American Le Mans Series with the Reynard team this year and will drive in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. He competed in Indy Lights in 1998 and 1999, earning rookie of the year honors in 1998.

-IMS/IRL-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Guy Smith , Bobby Rahal , Nigel Mansell , Jim Smith , Carl Smith