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Photo via Facebook remembrance page

Longtime NASCAR engine builder and TriStar Motorsports team owner Mark Smith, 63, died Sunday in North Carolina after a long and brave battle with cancer.

Smith is being remembered for his decades-long impact in the sport both as a championship engine builder and a successful team owner.

“NASCAR extends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of Mark Smith,” a NASCAR statement read. “For more than 30 years, Mark was a familiar and friendly face across all levels of NASCAR competition. He excelled as an engine builder, advancing from his roots in the K&N Pro Series to become two-time engine builder of the year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.  Mark’s contribution to racing will not be forgotten, and he will be missed dearly.”

TriStar Motorsport’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Cole Whitt posted the organization’s best showing of the season Sunday – a 12th-place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his No. 72.

Smith’s XFINITY Series team had a season high of 11th-place twice (at Bristol and Talladega) with driver JJ Yeley.

According to a team release, TriStar Motorsports will continue operations under the leadership and management of Bryan Smith, son of Mark Smith.

“It was dad’s dream to own and operate a NASCAR team. He devoted his life to that dream and his family plans to honor his wishes by continuing our efforts in his memory,” Bryan Smith said in a statement.


In all, Smith’s teams have posted more than 1,000 starts in both the Monster Energy Series and XFINITY Series. The late Dick Trickle and Bobby Hamilton joined Hermie Sadler, Jeff Green and Blake Koch among the list of drivers to steer Smith’s cars.

Loy Allen Jr. won the 1994 Daytona 500 pole position in Smith’s car. Three years earlier Hamilton won 1991 Cup Rookie of the Year honors.

Smith started his racing career as a heralded engine builder, first in the early 1970s building motors for his brother’s drag racing team and eventually earning “Engine Builder of the Year” honors twice (2008-09) in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series.

Reaction to his passing was similarly heartfelt across the racing industry, which reached out publicly and privately Monday.

Former TriStar team driver Eric McClure was among many who shared condolences via social media.

“Mark Smith gave me opportunity, stood w/me in personal valleys, & shared some special moments. More than a good racer, he was a good man.”

Four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and member of the 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class Ron Hornaday Jr. and 2012 premier series champion Brad Keselowski issued similar emotional social media posts.

Smith is survived by his high school sweetheart and wife of 43 years, Kathy. They have three children, Amy, Brian and Kevin.

The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Victory Junction Gang or NOVA (National Organization for Vehicle Access, part of the BraunAbility)

The family has also created a Facebook page encouraging people to leave a story for the family to enjoy (

Our deepest condolences go out to Mr.Smith’s family and friends.

Rest in peace brother. Godspeed.

This article was written by Holly Cain and appeared on


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