One of racing's early stars, Jack Smith, died

Motorsport.com is sad to report the death of one of the first racers in stock car history. Jack Smith, 78, died October 17 of congestive heart failure. Smith's racing started near Roswell, Georgia in the 40s' when he race against local ...

Motorsport.com is sad to report the death of one of the first racers in stock car history. Jack Smith, 78, died October 17 of congestive heart failure.

Smith's racing started near Roswell, Georgia in the 40s' when he race against local bootleggers. At that time, he worked at a local service station.

Smith was at home on dirt tracks as he was the new asphalt superspeedways In 1956, Smith won at Martinsville Speedway and went on to win 20 more races in his 15-year career Smith is listed 25th in NASCAR most wins with 21.

"He was as good at racing on dirt tracks as he was on paved tracks," NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said. "He was a smart race driver. People would say they didn't even know he was on the race track until the last 50 laps, then, 'Here he comes."'

In 1959, Smith won the Most Popular Driver Award in NASCAR. And in 1960, he teamed with Bud Moore.

"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."

"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."

One of Smith's more memorable races came in 1954 at Darlington when his car flipped five times and landed in the parking lot.

Smith was recently inducted in the National Motorsport Press Hall of Fame in Darlington. He will be inducted into the Daytona Beach Hall of Fame in February, now posthumus.

Smith of Spartanburg, South Carolina, is survived by his wife, Betty DeLay, three sons and two daughters.

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About this article
Series NASCAR , General
Drivers Jim Hunter , Jack Smith
Article type Obituary