Back in the Day – Stuart Smith (391)
In 2020, Back in the Day with the BSCDA has been spotlighting the achievements of all the drivers who managed to win 100+ Grand Finals in their racing careers.
It’s quite fitting then that we end the year with the final driver who not only managed 100+ Grand Finals but went onto win a staggering 500 Grand Finals, an achievement which while possible, is highly unlikely to be beaten. This is the story of Stuart Smith’s 500th Grand Final Victory on the 14th November 1987.
On this day 33 years ago at Hyde Road, Belle Vue, Manchester, with a bumper entry of more than 70 F1 Stock Cars, Belle Vue witnessed the unthinkable, Stuart Smith winning the Grand Final to take his 500th Grand Final victory and what would be Stuart’s last Grand Final.
Stuart had retired from competition at the end of 1986, having won 499 Grand Finals. The story wasn’t over though as Stuart returned for the last ever F1 Stock Car event to be held at the Belle Vue Stadium. He would make his return in a Harry Smith car, chasing the final ever Belle Vue Grand Final and his 500th in the sport.
The night at Belle Vue didn’t start off how Stuart would have planned, unable to qualify through the three heats which were won by Frankie Wainman Jnr (515), Derek Fairhurst (218) and Bert Finnikin (55).
Stuart would qualify through the Consolation with a 2nd placed finish behind John Lund (53), good enough to book a place in the Grand Final.
Having thought his career would finish on 499 victories and with a gap of over 12 months to his previous, his 499th Grand Final victory coming at the same venue in July 1986.
Stuart finally got his 500th Grand Final win in a hard fought race, beating home Nigel Whorton (422) and Dave Berresford (260).
Stuart ended his career setting a benchmark which is unlikely to ever be caught with the nearest driver 200+ Grand Final’s behind.
Stuart, also known as The Maestro, cemented his part in the Smith family’s Stock Car history, which was later added to by sons Andy Smith (391) and Stuart Smith Jnr (390) who both achieved a number of championship and Grand Final wins, with Andy being subject of one of our earlier Back in the Day’s.
Sadly Stuart passed away in 2010.
Stuart’s Racing Career in Numbers
Full Time Racing Career – 1965-1988
Grand Final Wins – 500
World Championships – 6
National Points Championships – 13
British Championships – 3
European Championships – 1
Stuart Smith’s Grand Final Milestones
|100th Grand Final|
19th September 1971
|200th Grand Final|
27th October 1974
|300th Grand Final|
21st May 1977
|400th Grand Final|
13th September 1979
|500th Grand Final|
14th November 1987
Footage of the Stuart’s 500th Grand Final Victory.
Uploaded by Chris Binns
Recorded by Dennis Binns