GR Smith, an up and coming NASCAR driver, will make his Truck Series debut at this weekend's race, the Nashville 200.
Smith's team, MAKE Motorsports, owned by Tracy Lowe and Mark Beaver, is also making their debut appearance in the Truck Series at the Nashville Superspeedway.
Smith notes that MAKE Motorsports is new to the NASCAR scene, although both owners have had success in dirt late models and other forms of motorsports. MAKE actually is the composite of all of the names of the team owners' children.
"That just fits our model," Smith said. "We want to 'MAKE' the race; we want to 'MAKE' ourselves known to the sponsors this year; we want to have a presence on the scene; and we want to 'MAKE' an impression on NASCAR."
MAKE Motorspots plans to run at least five races in the Camping World Truck Series, including Nashville, Charlotte, Talladega, Kentucky, and Darlington, with GR Smith behind the wheel of the No. 50 race truck. The team's hope is then to run the entire 2011 season with Smith competing for Truck Rookie of the Year honors.
28 year old Smith has been racing professionally for over 10 years. He hails from a racing family in southern New Jersey.
And if you're wondering what GR stands for, the driver says simply "Great Racer."
Smith began his racing career on the dirt in Southern Jersey. He has won championships at both Bridgeport Speedway and New Egypt Speedway, in 2001 and 2002 respectively.
As with many current racers, Smith raced while also going to college. He is a graduate of West Virginia University, with a degree in communications and athletic coaching.
"We have to win the Final Four," Smith said of his alma mater. "We make it back once a year to a football game. It will be very hard to keep me away from Morgantown (WV) if we win the national championship."
After graduating from WVU, Smith went full-time Super Late Model racing, from New Jersey, to Ohio, to Florida, and "everywhere in between." Smith plans to continue his dirt racing in addition to his select Truck ride.
Smith admits that he has "never been in a Truck." But he also shares that he is not nervous, as he has been in many other types of race vehicles, including on the dirt and in the ARCA Series.
The young driver is also not intimidated by the hard-core veteran drivers in the Truck Series. "A Ron Hornaday or a Kevin Harvick are great, but they all have flaws," Smith said. "Without being cocky, I think we can hold our own."
Although confident, Smith is also realistic about his chances in his Truck debut. "A 15th place finish is a win for us," Smith said.
"We're looking forward to this new challenge," Smith said. "We're excited about the opportunity with MAKE Motorsports this weekend in Nashville."
Smith and MAKE Motorsports will also have a special incentive to win their debut Truck race this weekend. They are driving for the Ronald McDonald House of Nashville and if they win, 50 percent of the prize money will go to the charity.
"What a great cause," MAKE Motorsports team owner Mark Beaver said. "Who doesn't love to make kids smile?"
"Our NASCAR roots are built on family support and thousands of young fans," Beaver continued. "We can't wait to help families with their 'home away from home' initiative.
“We are thrilled to partner with the MAKE Motorsports team for this exciting event," Liz Piercy, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House of Nashville said. "This is a wonderful opportunity for the children and families who make our House their home away from home."
In addition to the Nashville race, MAKE Motorsports plans to partner with children's charities in each city where they are racing, providing awareness and publicity to those organizations.
"NASCAR gives back, and we believe teams should give back-even the teams just starting out," team co-owner Tracy Lowe said. "Especially in today's economy, helping others isn't just about feeling good-it helps all of us move forward by leading by example. When you give without expectation of return, there is no better feeling."
In addition to the paint scheme on the car, eight children will be chosen from the Ronald McDonald House in Nashville to give the command for the drivers to start their engines. The children and the families will also visit the pit and garage area, as well as participate in driver introductions for the Truck race.
"We're all just excited," Smith said. "It's my car owners' first trip out; it's my first trip out. Everybody's been there since day one since it was a plan on the paper."
"It makes it that much more special to see the whole puzzle coming together."