LOUISE SMITH

Louise Smith raced for the love of her sport. "Money was nothing back then," she says. "Sometimes it seemed like the more you drove the less money you had. I remember one time Buck Baker and Lee Petty and I had to put our money together just to split a hot dog and a Coke. I won a lot, crashed a lot, and broke just about every bone in my body, but I gave it everything I had."

Louise was born in Barnsville, Georgia, but her family moved to a farm near Greenville, South Carolina when she was four. When she decided to learn to drive, Louise started her father's T-Model and had a wonderful time until she realized she did not know how to stop. So she drove the car through the chicken house and had the first of her spectacular crashes. "Needless to say, the chicken house was destroyed, and the car did not look good either. My father tanned me good," recalls Louise.

Louise met Bill France before he created NASCAR. "In those days 300 or 400 fans was a big crowd, and Bill thought I could put more people in the stands," says Louise. The fans turned out by the hundreds at Louise's first race to see a woman compete against the "real" drivers. "They told me if I saw a red flag to stop," she remembers. "They didn't say anything about a checkered flag." All the drivers except Louise went to the pits when the race ended. "I'm out there just flyin' around the track. Finally somebody remembered they told me not to stop until I saw the red flag. So they gave me a red flag." She finished third in that event and went on to win 28 modified races in 11 years much to the chagrin of Lee Petty, Buck Baker, Curtis Turner, Fonty Flock, Red Byron, and Roy Hall. house." Louise wishes he had not said that!

Louise Smith lives in Greenville, South Carolina and is a member of The Living Legends. She is the first woman to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladaga.

In 1947 Louise wanted to race at Daytona. She acquired a special engine, hid it in the trunk of the family Ford, and headed for Florida. NASCAR officials assigned her number 13. "I went all down the line trying to trade that 13 off. They said, 'Aw, Lou, just follow us through that North Turn.' So I followed them, but when I got to the North Turn seven cars were piled up. I hit the back of one of them, went up in the air, cut a flip, and landed on my top. Some police officers turned the car back over, and I finished 13th."

"If you won a race, you sometimes had to fight. I remember grabbing a tire iron one time to help Buck Baker." After another race Louise and the guys stopped at a restaurant before heading to the next race. Louise was in the ladies room when she heard chairs slamming against the door. Everyone was arrested, and Louise had to pawn her diamond ring to get them out of jail.

Louise was known for her hard-charging style and her breathtaking crashes. At Hillsborough (N.C.) she became airborne coming out of the second turn, and it took 36 minutes to free her with an acetylene torch. At Mobile (AL) she tangled with Fonty Flock and ended up sitting on top of her car in the middle of a lake. Before another race, Buddy Shuman said, "Lou, you see that empty house up there on the bank? Be careful. Don't go up that bank and through that house." Louise wishes he had not said that!

Louise Smith lives in Greenville, South Carolina and is a member of The Living Legends. She is the first woman to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladaga.