FORT WORTH, TX --- "Who is that guy on your team wearing the cowboy hat that's always smiling?" Joe Gibbs Racing Team members hear that question often while working at the racetrack. The answer? It is Jim Smith, a Texas native that ...
FORT WORTH, TX --- "Who is that guy on your team wearing the cowboy hat that's always smiling?"
Joe Gibbs Racing Team members hear that question often while working at the racetrack. The answer? It is Jim Smith, a Texas native that spends countless hours helping out around the racing shops of the Porter-Cable Racing Team. Smith was introduced to the NASCAR community when he met Diamond Ridge Racing team owner Gary Bechtel in 1997 The NASCAR Busch Series was in town for its first visit to the Texas Motor Speedway. Smith invited Bechtel and his racing team to come out to his ranch for a real Texas-sized barbecue the night before the race and a friendship was struck.
For the next year, Smith would meet the team at many of the racing venues and lend a hand wherever needed as well as serve as the chief cook for the racing team. His creations on the grill attracted the attention of the entire garage. As time progressed and the friendship grew between Smith and the now named Joe Gibbs Racing organization, Smith began to spend more time in Charlotte, NC helping out around the shops. Smith now spends the majority of his time in Charlotte.
Prior to becoming a team member for Joe Gibbs Racing, Smith spent 15 years raising cattle for rodeos across the country. At times his herd of cattle numbered in the 4,000 range.
"The rodeo life is so parallel to the NASCAR way of life," Smith said. We would work hard all week on the cattle, then load it up in 18-wheelers and send the cattle across the country to perform in the rodeos. Like NASCAR, you are in a different location every week putting on a show for all the fans."
Smith has also spent some time behind the wheel of a racecar. He raced late models for many years at Boyd Speedway in Texas. A few years ago Smith purchased a LEGENDS car and lists his ultimate goal as racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Throughout his travels on the NASCAR Busch Series circuit, Smith does his best to promote his home state of Texas.
"I want all my friends in Texas to come out to the track and see all the excitement," Smith said. "Bruton Smith has built an awesome facility here for us in Texas and turned many people into racing fans in just a few short years. The excitement I get when the Busch Series heads to Texas is awesome, I am so proud for all my racing friends to come to Texas and see the pride we have in our state."
Smith has also done his best along with Gary Bechtel to promote racing to needy children. Smith and Bechtel have used the suites at Texas Motor Speedway to entertain children at all the races.
"I think it's important that every kid gets a chance to experience the thrill of NASCAR," Smith said. "We always try to include the kids in everything we do around racing."
The thrill of being associated with Joe Gibbs Racing is glaring when one talks to Smith.
"I grew up a big fan of the late Tom Landry and now having the opportunity to be around Joe Gibbs is incredible," Smith said. "Joe and Tom are so alike in the way they approach life and the first-class way they treat people. I consider myself very lucky to be a part of Joe Gibbs Racing."
The Joe Gibbs Racing Team feels the same way about Jim and his contributions.
"Jim is a great guy to have around, he keeps everyone excited and no one ever goes hungry with Jim around," driver Jeff Purvis said. "I hope we run well in Texas in front of all of Jim's friends this weekend."
When Smith does find a few minutes away from racing he helps with his family's business, Smith Brothers. The company runs the world's largest online western store at www. Smithbros.com.
Now you know the story of who the friendly guy is in the cowboy hat. If you ever get the chance to meet Jim Smith, take a few minutes. Jim is always good for a few stories and a hearty-meal or two around the grill.