The Smith Brothers Take Over the Quarter-Mile at the Cook Out Summer Shootout
Charlotte Motor Speedway brings families closer together both in the stands and in the garage. The Cook Out Summer Shootout is one experience that the Smith family says elevates their driving while creating unforgettable memories.
Taking the momentum from their drag-strip-driving grandfather the Smith Brothers, Jack (10) and Joel (13), haven't taken their foot off the gas on their racing dreams. The Smith family’s Cook Out Summer Shootout journey started as 10-hour drives from Michigan to the famed quarter-mile each week.
“The kids didn't really want to race up north anymore, they just wanted to race down here,” mother Laura Smith said, prompting their family’s move to North Carolina in 2021. “It’s America's Home for Racing. This is like the best place to race, you win here a dream comes true for these kids.”
UNC Charlotte Young Lions driver Joel Smith, learned to walk and drive at the same time when his grandfather put him behind the wheel of a motorized Mini Cooper at 18-months-old. From quarter midgets to Bandoleros and Legends Cars, Joel said being able to share the garage with his dad and younger brother, makes the summer more memorable for the whole family.
“We're having a lot of fun out here. We're spending our summer doing the things we love to do,” Joel said. “Having a little brother looking up to me is pretty special. For the longest time I was doing it, now he's racing the summer shootout with me in the same series I used to race in.”
Jack Smith, who competes in the ages seven to 11 Beginner Bandoleros division said that both his grandfather and brother can be credited for his passion for racing.
“My grandpa used to race motorcycles at drag strips, so that's what got me started,” Jack said. “When I turned seven, my parents got me a Bandolero and we went out and tested it for about a year and then we came to the track and raced.”
Last summer in the final round of the Cook Out Summer Shootout, the puzzle pieces finally came together as both Smith boys picked up a win on the same night.
“It was just a huge relief, especially after all the hard work and effort we put in,” Joel said. “That was pretty special because me and him had never won the same night before.”
“They both got a picture in victory lane and we loved it so much. It was so good,” Laura said. “I think I cried for hours.”
The tears have continued to flow this summer as Jack has placed in the top five consistently through seven rounds, hitting the top of the podium twice. “Hey, Mom, hold back your tears!” Jack said after his win during Round 7 of the Cook Out Summer Shootout.
Joel, who has finished in the top 10 three times this summer, has seen his fair share of success with two national championships in the Bandoleros division and was named the 2022 Asphalt Nationals Young Lions Champion at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
For a family whose lives revolve around racing, the Smith family says they wouldn’t change this “lifestyle” for anything and appreciate their grandfather for introducing them to the world of motorsports.
“I would thank him probably for everything he taught me,” Joel said. “Without that stuff, I probably wouldn't be as good as I am now or have any other knowledge I know now.
“If you're not in it you don't get it, but for us, it's just a lifestyle,” Laura said emotionally. “ I would just tell my dad thank you because I mean at the end of the day, we've made a lot of really great friends, and we've made a lot of really great memories.”
Next Up: On Tuesday, July 25, the track cools down due to a North Pole chill as Christmas in July presented by Trackhouse Motorplex takes place at the Cook Out Summer Shootout. Drivers will saddle up their four-wheeled sleighs for the summer season’s penultimate night of competition. The speedway will be in the spirit of giving with an offer of free admission for any adult fan who brings a new, unwrapped toy for donation.
TICKETS: Adult tickets are just $10; kids 12 and under get in FREE. For tickets, schedules and more details about all the happenings at Charlotte Motor Speedway, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets.
KEEP TRACK: Follow all the thrilling Cook Out Summer Shootout action using the hashtag #CookOutSSO. Connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.