The Pontiac factory billing...
The Pontiac factory billing manifest shows a '62 Super-Duty assigned to "Smith."
In 1962, Jack campaigned two '62 Super-Duty Catalinas. The first was built for him by Pontiac, carried No. 47 lettering, and was sponsored by Miller Pontiac of Columbus, Georgia. (See sidebar.) According to Richard Parris, who worked on Jack's race team for the '61 and '62 seasons, "Jack called the No. 47 Super-Duty his superspeedway car. He also bought a barely used '62 Super-Duty Catalina that had been damaged in a fire. Jack gave that one No. 46 lettering and used it for short to medium asphalt tracks early during the '62 season. The two Super-Dutys were easily distinguishable. No. 47 had roll-up side windows and a permanent hardtop. No. 46 had no side windows, and a removable hardtop, allowing it to compete in NASCAR's convertible races."
The No. 47 Super-Duty competed in 51 NASCAR races, earned pole position seven times, and won four First Place finishes: Savannah; Hickory; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Asheville, North Carolina. The No. 46 Super-Duty took First Place at the Concord Speedway on November 5, 1961. With Pontiac's SD-421 Catalinas propelling Jack at every race, he earned $34,748, the most money of any year in his entire NASCAR career.
Like other Pontiac NASCAR drivers, Jack found himself without a sponsor when GM forced Pontiac to shut down its racing programs in January 1963, and he agreed with Ray Nichels to a one-year contract with Chrysler. He retired in 1964, wanting to spend more time with his family, and opened Jack Smith Transmissions in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which is still in business today.
In the early days of the superspeedways,...
In the early days of the superspeedways, crew/driver communications consisted of chalkboards, handwriting, and quick eyes. Jack Smith was the first NASCAR driver to use a two-way radio in a race. This photo is from 1963, after Pontiac pulled out of NASCAR racing.
His achievements were recognized by the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame, Jacksonville Raceway Hall of Fame, Legends of Darlington, Old Timers Racing Club, Legends of Auto Racing, and with the Smokey Yunick Racing Pioneer Award.
Jack died from congestive heart failure on October 17, 2001. His son, Lance, continues his tradition by displaying the '60 No. 47 Catalina replica race car at events and shows throughout the United States. We asked Lance if he would talk to High Performance Pontiac about Jack Smith's career and love for Pontiacs, and he was happy to oblige.
High Performance Pontiac: Please tell us about the first Pontiac that Jack Smith raced.
Lance Smith: It was a '58 Chieftain that was built for Dad when he still lived in Sandy Springs. It had a 370ci engine and a four-barrel carburetor.
HPP: Jack was within car lengths of winner Paul Goldsmith on the old beach course at Daytona in 1958. Did he think he could win the race?
LS: Absolutely. He felt he could have taken First Place, but when he made a pit stop, the tire jack sunk into the asphalt on the tire change and slowed him down just enough so that he lost that race.
HPP: How did the wreck at Darlington occur and how badly was the '58 Pontiac damaged?
LS: According to Dad, he was following a slower car that blew its engine and caused an oil slick on the track. He hit the oil slick, slid off the track, and demolished that Pontiac when he crashed over the guardrail to the outside of the speedway.
Lowes Motor Speedway invited...
Lowes Motor Speedway invited Jack to participate in its 1991 Winston Legends Shootout.
HPP: Was he hurt?
LS: No. A doctor checked him out, said he was fine, and he drove back to Atlanta that night.
HPP: How did Jack feel about winning the NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award for 1958?
LS: He loved every minute of it-especially the complimentary week in Daytona complete with food and lodging. Dad and Mom told me they treated him like a king.
HPP: How did your dad come up with the No. 47 for his race cars and when did he start using it?
LS: My older brother, Jackie, was born in 1947. On February 17, 1957, for the Daytona Beach Course race, Dad used No. 47 on his '57 Chevrolet race car for the very first time. The number stayed with Dad when he switched to Pontiac in 1958, and again in 1960.
HPP: Why did he move from Sandy Springs to Spartanburg in 1960?
LS: In 1960, Spartanburg was the center of the racing world. Dad wanted to be where all the action was.