Dirt Late Model Legend Freddy Smith Passes Away at 76

Dirt Late Model Legend Freddy Smith Passes Away at 76

In a somber moment for the world of Dirt Late Model racing, the sport bids farewell to a true icon. Freddy Smith, affectionately known as “The Southern Gentleman,” passed away late Saturday night at the age of 76 after a brief battle with leukemia. The Kings Mountain, North Carolina native and five-time Dirt Track World Championship winner left behind a legacy that forever etches his name in the annals of motorsports history.

A Titan of the Sport

Freddy Smith’s career in Dirt Late Model racing spanned generations, starting from its earliest days and culminating with the second-to-last of an astounding 785 career victories on the latest-generation tour. His impact on the sport is immeasurable, and his memory will live on in the hearts of fans and fellow competitors.

A Family’s Hero

Freddy Smith’s son, Jeff Smith, described his father as “my real-life hero,” echoing the sentiments of countless racing enthusiasts who admired the silver-haired driver of the No. 00. Jeff Smith shared the news of his father’s passing early this morning, emphasizing the profound impact Freddy had not only on the racing world but within their family.

A Storied Career

Freddy Smith’s racing journey began in 1966, and he quickly became a dominant force in the Carolinas. He transitioned to the national stage, making his mark on the National Dirt Racing Association with nine career victories in the late 1970s. He even dabbled in NASCAR, making several starts in the big leagues.

The highlight of his career included five Dirt Track World Championships (1983, ’85, ’91, ’93, and ’98) – a testament to his remarkable skills and determination. Though his 19 World 100 starts at Eldora Speedway left a void in his record, he triumphed in the inaugural $100,000 Dream for GVS in 1994 and added another six-figure victory at Eldora in 2000. He secured numerous other major victories, including the inaugural Topless 100 at Batesville (Ark.) Motor Speedway in 1993 and being a two-time winner of the Show-Me 100 at West Plains (Mo.) Motor Speedway in ’98 and ’01.

A Lasting Legacy

Freddy Smith’s career was marked by humility and a deep respect for his fellow competitors. In a 2019 interview, he modestly stated, “We felt like we was as good as anybody… We went out and raced with all of them, from the Carolinas out to Arizona up to North Dakota — everywhere — and each of us won and had good nights.”

His final major victory came on July 11, 2008, at North Alabama Speedway on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, capping a remarkable 41-year racing journey.

A Life of Faith

In his final moments, Freddy Smith found peace in his faith, as his son Jeff shared, “We have peace in our hearts. He gave his life to the Lord two weeks earlier.” The Smith family expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of prayers and requested continued prayers for peace and comfort for Freddy’s wife, Naomi, and the rest of the family.

Freddy Smith is survived by his son, Jeff Smith, and his wife of more than 59 years, Naomi. He is also remembered fondly by his four grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his father, Clarence “Grassy” Smith, who supported Freddy’s earliest racing endeavors.

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