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1-on-1 with Late Model Driver Dylan Smith

NASCAR Late Model driver Dylan Smith’s star has slowly been on the rise in the sport in recent years. The Vermont driver has gained ground both on the track and with the fans, as “The Black Mamba” has made a name for himself in the garage.

The Podium Finish: What was it that drew you to NASCAR?

Dylan Smith: I don’t know about NASCAR but stock car racing in general? I went to the Thunder Road Speedbowl when I was about three or four, and it was all racing ever since.

TPF: When did you get your start in racing?

DS: I started when I was four as the youngest go-karter at Thunder Road.

TPF: Who has made the biggest impact on your career?

DS: Man, I’ve had so many people who have helped me out in different respects. Ultimately, I’ll have to say Tony Stewart. A lot of who I am and how I carry myself comes from that guy right there.

TPF: What are your 2017 plans in racing?

DS: 2017 is still looking a little shaky. I have a new partner in the American Cancer Society. What level we will race at is uncertain, but we will have a big kickoff party in Charlotte’s South Park Mall to begin our 2017 season, so we’re pretty excited about that.

TPF: You seem to have a profound respect for NASCAR’s history, once donning Wendell Scott livery on your No. 34 Late Model at Myrtle Beach. What is it that draws you to NASCAR’s roots?

DS: You can know where you’re going without knowing where you came from. I think it’s extremely important young racers know the pioneers of the sport so that they can really understand what the sport is about. Without guys like Wendell Scott going against the odds I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. Being able to link with the Wendell Scott Foundation during the Myrtle Beach 400 was awesome.

TPF: What is the story behind your “Black Mamba” moniker?

DS: I have to thank my buddy Brandon McReynolds for that one. I was go-karting with what was then known as the Field Filler Fairgrounds guys. I had been to the place once before and my racer name was Black Mamba. Well, no one knew who that was until Joey Logano stuffed me so far in the wall that they had to stop the race to pull me out.

TPF: As part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity, do you feel that the D4D has helped NASCAR?

DS: The D4D program has done a lot of things for different people, me included. I think it has given drivers and employees a platform to shed the stereotypes in NASCAR.

TPF: As a NASCAR driver, do you feel gimmicks such as the Chase for the Cup and the Caution Clock should be more widespread in the sport?

DS: I don’t see the Chase as a gimmick. I don’t care who you are, you can’t tell me that the Chase hasn’t added excitement and drama back to our sport. As a driver or crew member it’s extremely nerve wracking, but as a fan I look forward to it every year. I’m not a huge fan of the Caution Clock, though.

TPF: You’re highly active on social media. How do you feel social media helps your brand?

DS: It has changed the entire game, especially for someone like me. I don’t have the luxury of a full-time ride, but I’ve been able to expand my reach to people even without racing every weekend. I have a full-time job so it’s hard to do everything that needs to be done on my career by myself. But social media allows me to let people into my life and I love it. I literally have the best support system and it continues to get bigger and stronger. I’m looking forward to giving them something to be proud of soon.

TPF: Who in the garage are you able to go up to for help?

DS: I’m very fortunate to have met so many people in the sport not only on a professional level, but on a personal level too. I believe they appreciate my passion for racing. I pull advice from a lot of different places in the sport.

TPF: Should other drivers “Fear the Fade?”

DS: (laughs) They should because every time I race I know it might be my last one so I’m hanging it all out.

TPF: How do you feel you’ve evolved as a driver?

DS: Leaps and bounds. Most people didn’t know who I was until after I had a relatively successful 2014 season. They don’t realize what it took to get to that point. When I went to my first Diversity Combine I drove like Bobby Labonte – with my right foot. Well, 95% of of racers and cars are set up for left foot braking. I had to teach myself how to do that. I used to do iRacing at Rev Racing from the time I got out of work at 4 pm to 11 pm every night. It was the only seat time I could get.

TPF: Where do you see yourself as a driver in the next three years?

DS: I just hope I’ve found a full-time ride by then. I don’t care if it’s racing a lawnmower. I just want to be able to be at the track every week doing what I love.

TPF: If not driving, would you still be a part of NASCAR?

DS: Absolutely. I’ve actually talked with some NASCAR brass here and there about it. If I wasn’t driving I would definitely want to work on the short track side of NASCAR. I think it’s important to keep the short track scene growing and keep the short tracks from turning into North Wilkesboro.

TPF: Do you see yourself partaking in any other form of motorsport?

DS: I will take part in any and every type of motorsport. I tried to get Cole Custer to hire me to run the Chili Bowl this year. He didn’t quite buy it. (laughs)

TPF: What do you wish to accomplish in your career?

DS: Personal goal is to win at a national level at Loudon. That’s my home. I have so many people up there that still reach out and drive me to keep going and they deserve a hometown boy in Victory Lane. But as a whole? I just want to impact the sport and people in a positive way.

Special thanks to Dylan Smith (@DylanSmith34 on Twitter).


Daddy to Meredith, Aeris, and Dexter. Husband to Stacie. Brag Dad. Sooner football fanatic. Also contribute to Find me on Twitter at @JosephSheltonSM, or Instagram at @josephsheltonsm.

1 Comment

1 Comment


    Rick Davis

    January 15, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Nice job for both of you, the writing and the honest responses from my man Mamba.

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