Late model driver and race car builder Jeff Smith, of Dallas, N.C., will be among the local favorites when the nation's top dirt-track racers invade The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway Friday and Saturday, April 18-19, for the third annual Circle K Colossal 100.

Smith, the son of dirt late model legend Freddy Smith, has parlayed his life-long involvement in the sport into a successful career both on and off the track. In addition to wheeling the No. 70 Starrette Trucking entry at numerous southern dirt tracks, Smith, 42, also owns and operates J&J Race Cars, a Gastonia, N.C., company that builds dirt late models and distributes racing parts.

"As far as mechanics are concerned, I learned that from my dad," Smith said. "Between him and my grandfather (Clarence "Grassy" Smith), I can pretty much work on anything from one end of the race car to the other."

Growing up, the young Smith spent countless hours in the family garage as his father prepared the familiar No. 00. But once Smith joined his father behind the wheel, the rigors of competing with different series often left the youngest without his father's guidance.

"The way it worked out, we followed different series over the years," Smith explained. "I did my regional thing while he was doing his national stuff. As far as helping me with the driving aspect, I wish I could have had him around more. I know it would have shortened my learning curve."

Despite his family's long involvement in dirt-track racing, Smith's mother was hesitant to let her son continue the family tradition.

"It was 1984 before I raced," he said. "My mom put her foot down and said I couldn't sit in a race car until I graduated from high school. I raced while I was in college and I went to classes year around so I could finish faster."

Freddy Smith, known to fans as "The Southern Gentleman," has set the standard for a new generation of dirt-track racers, including his son.

"Obviously, he's way ahead of me in number of wins," the younger Smith said. "I've been able to gain on him here the last few years, but he has always been the one guy who was out front."

Even though he'll be battling the nation's best in the Circle K Colossal 100, Smith is eagerly anticipating the World of Outlaws Late Model Series event.

"I really enjoy racing at The Dirt Track and the Colossal 100 is a phenomenal event," said Smith, who has missed the 36-car starting field in the two previous editions of the marquee early season event.

"It's not that we've been that bad there," Smith noted. "We just haven't had any luck. It's nothing that was the fault of poor maintenance or mistakes-it was just stupid luck. We need to get in the show, then we can worry about winning it. Our issues have happened in getting to the feature, but we'll be there this year with bells on-Good Lord willing, and the creek don't rise."

The Friday-night portion of the Circle K Colossal 100 features group time trials and heat races. The top two finishers in each heat will secure a spot in the 100-lap finale and a draw will determine the starting lineup.

Saturday night's program begins with a driver autograph session and the on-track action includes at least four additional qualifying races prior to the main event. The race is part of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, but The Dirt Track's traditional format, including the extremely popular Delaware-style restarts, will be utilized.

If purchased in advance, reserved tickets for both Friday and Saturday nights are just $39 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 and under. Two-day pit passes are $60 in advance.

Tickets and pit passes for the April 18-19 Circle K Colossal 100 can be purchased online or by calling 1-800-455-FANS.

The Fleetwood RV Camping Resort is located adjacent to The Dirt Track and full-service camping spots can be reserved by calling (704) 455-4445.