Chandler Smith gears up for the big time
If 11-year-old JMS student Chandler Smith gets it his way, when he grows up he’ll be racing alongside the best drivers in the nation at Daytona 500.
“I’d race all day if I could,” said the middle schooler, who last year was named 2013 National Bandolero Champion at the Bethel Motor Speedway in New York.
Chandler said he doesn’t talk about his life as a racecar driver in school, but one look at his tricked out racing trailer will show how dedicated he and his family are to the sport.
Chandler’s passion for speed began in preschool when he started racing go-karts at a track in Chatsworth, Ga.
“He told his dad that Jeff Gordon started racing at four and that he wanted to, too,” said mother Lori Smith.
Chandler (who is very vocal about no longer being a Jeff Gordon fan) has since moved on to
Continued on 2B race 1/4 Midgets, Jr. Honda and Jr. Stock, and he now has several first place wins under his belt. He was also named the Joey Logano Breakthrough Driver of the Year for 2012.
“He’ll get up to 90 miles an hour sometimes,” said Lori, who along with stepmother Tammy Smith admitted to being “a nervous wreck when he gets on the track.”
But for Chandler, 90 m.p.h. isn’t fast enough.
“After this year I can move up,” said Chandler, whose number one hero is driver Jimmy Johnson. “The Bandoleros are too slow.”
Smith said the late model stock cars he plans to drive next year will require him to shift gears for the first time, and will also let him top out at speeds between 100 m.p.h. and 120 m.p.h, depending on the track.
Chandler’s mom remembers when he slammed headfirst against a wall after a spindle fell off his racer, and a second time his car flipped at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“He thinks he’s invincible,” she said - which Chandler agreed.
“It’s not him, it’s other drivers,” Lori said. “You just don’t know what they are going to do. But we are very supportive. This is what we do. We spend a lot of time taking him back and forth to races, down to Atlanta, and all over the region.”
Lori said Chandler keeps his grades up in school so they let him continue.
“This is his sport,” Lori said. “Sometimes we have to check him out of school, but just like some kids get out for basketball or baseball, this is his hobby. It’s what he loves.”
Learn more about Chandler Smith and find his full 2014 racing schedule at www. chandlersmithracing.com.