(June 2, 1942 - August 12, 1973), born in Lenoir
, North Carolina
, United States, was a former NASCAR
driver. He made his debut in the 1971 World 600
in the #92 Ford
, finishing 22nd. He would go on to run three more races that year, acquiring one top-ten finish. In 1972, he was named the first NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year
, running 23 races and posting seven top-ten finishes. The next year, he finally acquired major sponsorship, from Carling Black Label
. Unfortunately, he was struggling severely that year and was trying to turn things around.
Untimely death following crash
Later that year, while running the Talladega 500
, Smith spun his 1971 Mercury
on lap 14 and slapped the Turn 1 retaining wall
.Larry Smith Killed In Race Crash
, Atlanta Daily World, August 16, 1973, pg. 9. His car suffered minor damage, which the crew was preparing to repair. However during the ensuing caution flag
, members of Smith's pit crew
surprisingly discovered that the driver did not survive the impact of the crash. It is rumored, but not confirmed, that the head injuries that killed Smith came because he tore the inner-lining out of his helmet, which had been bothering him for some time. He was pronounced dead on arrival
at the Talladega Superspeedway
infield hospital. No other drivers were involved in the crash.
Smith is one of several drivers featured in the 1975 book The World's Number One, Flat-Out, All-Time Great......