Smith to be Shot Out of Cannon at Bank of America 500
For decades the Smith name has been associated with spectacular, one-of-a-kind pre-race shows at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but the stunt scheduled for the Oct. 15 Bank of America 500 will send Smith soaring skyward to new heights.
In a first-of-its-kind attempt, Smith will try to set a Guinness World Record for the highest recorded human cannonball shot. Will it be Bruton Smith? Will it be Marcus Smith? Well, no.
It will be world-renowned human cannonball David “The Bullet” Smith who will attempt to soar 90 feet in the air before the green flag flies on the only Saturday night race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Although this David Smith is not related to the Speedway Motorsports Smith family, like Charlotte Motor Speedway President Marcus Smith, David became involved in the family business at an early age.
He began his cannonball career at the age of 19, mostly out of necessity when his father, David Sr., a lifelong human cannonball, sustained an injury.
“My dad called and said ‘son, I need you in Madison, Wisconsin in two days,’” the junior Smith recalled. “I got to Wisconsin and took a practice shot in the morning and did my first live show that evening. I was terrified and nervous, but very excited.”
That first cannonball shot was 75 feet in length. Since then Smith’s attempts have gotten significantly longer. He set his first Guinness World Record for distance fired from a cannon in 1998 at 181 feet, 4 inches. In March this year Smith smashed the original attempt and remains the current record holder, with a launch of 193 feet. During the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway he’s setting his sights on a height record, which is currently not on the books with Guinness.
“Setting a height record is quite a challenging prospect on many levels,” said Smith. “Any time that I venture into uncharted territory the biggest questions are will the cannon and the landing net perform accurately and safely under new stresses and will I be able to accurately account for things like wind drift and the rebound bounce in the netting.
“A shot this big will require almost perfect accuracy, yet that accuracy will be harder to come by than ever,” Smith said. “I intend to fire out of the cannon at Charlotte Motor Speedway with an incredible amount of force both during launch and at the impact in the landing net. One hard truth about a cannon shot like this one is that there is very little grey area between success and failure.”
Smith has performed all over the United States, including weeklong shows at Disneyland in Calif., as a part of the Vans Warped Tour, on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Today Show,” and on “Senseless Acts of Video” on MTV, where he shot over part of the Grand Canyon.
“Figuring how to set the netting and to keep the cannon from rolling down the cliff were challenges,” Smith said of the Grand Canyon attempt. “Also, adjusting to the incredibly strong winds and cold weather was difficult too, but we did it!”
Smith has also taken his act internationally, performing once at the Sultan’s festival in Oman and at four Royal Shows, an annual fair held in England.
Smith comes from a family with seven children, each of whom has been fired from a cannon and four of whom have become professional cannonballs. Smith himself has four children and his five-year-old son Maverick has already expressed an interest in following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps.
Smith earned the nickname “The Bullet” from his friends. He guesses that he has been shot out of a cannon more than 5,000 times.
“It’s in my blood. I love this,” Smith said. “The challenge, the adrenaline, the adventure, the roar of the crowd.
“I’m honored to have been invited to Charlotte Motor Speedway to find out just what I can do with a human cannon,” he continued. “I’ll improve as long as I can and then maybe pass it down to the next generation. I can’t wait to see what they can do, but I’ll probably have to cover my eyes.”
Fans can purchase two frontstretch tickets to the Bank of America 500, with the best views of Smith’s human cannonball launch and the world’s largest HDTV, for just $99. Tickets for all October races at Charlotte Motor Speedway can be purchased online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267).