INDIANAPOLIS – 15-year-old Georgia native Chandler Smith has joined Venturini Motorsports for six short track races next season in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.
Fresh off a pair of top-5 finishes in last weekend’s highly competitive Snowflake and Snowball Derby, Smith becomes the latest teenage talent to leap into the series making his ARCA debut at the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville on April 7.
Selected to pilot the team’s No. 55 Toyota Camry for a partial schedule, the high school sophomore will also compete at Salem Speedway (April 22), Toledo Speedway (May 20), Iowa Speedway (July 7), Elko Speedway (July 14) and Lucas Oil Raceway (Sept. 7).
“It’s a big step in my career and an exciting time in my life,” said Smith after announcing his 2018 ARCA schedule. “I’m excited and ready to put my skills to the test. I’ve got a lot to prove. Running ARCA will be a big learning curve for me but I’m really confident in myself and this team. Venturini Motorsports and Toyota have shown a lot of success over the years with young drivers. They’ve got a great program, it’s the best fit.”
When asked about the upcoming transition to the ARCA Series Smith says it’s all he knows.
“I’ve been moving up in ranks from the beginning, at my age I’ve had to learn and adapt to every series and every car – there’s really no difference here. The more seat time and experience I gain the better driver I’ll become. I’m excited about my future,” said Smith.
Smith, recognized within the Toyota Racing Development family under the TD2 program, has recently become a part of Toyota’s Development Driver lineup.
“We’re excited to welcome Chandler into the family,” says team owner Billy Venturini. “He’s really stood out amongst the top young drivers in stock car racing. Based on everything I’ve seen I truly believe he has the foundation both on and off the track to make it to the next level.”
Like so much of today’s youth movement in motorsports, Smith started his career at the tender age of 4, starting in Karts before moving up through the ranks into Quarter Midgets, Bandoleros, Pro Late Models and Super Late Models. During his young career, Smith has earned nine National Championships.
Between 2007-2011, Smith competed nationally in Quarter Midgets. During that time period, he won the 2010 QMA Jr. Stock National and Eastern Grands Championship and the USAC Jr. Honda, Jr. Stock and Light Mod National Championship.
Smith went on to compete in the INEX Bandoleros from 2012-14. During this time, he was a three-time Atlanta Motor Speedway Bandolero Champion, as well as the 2014 Charlotte Motor Speedway Summer Shootout Bandolero Champion.
In 2015, Smith made the jump to Pro Late Model racing, earning his first career win in the PASS Pro Late Model Racing Series at South Carolina’s Anderson Motor Speedway. In 2016-17 Smith continued his development racing late models earning numerous top-5 finishes going up against some of the strongest competition in the country.
In addition to a strong showing last week in Pensacola, Smith made headlines winning a heat race in this year’s inaugural Short Track US Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Since ARCA reduced the series age requirement in 2014, Smith will become the sixth 15-year old driver to join VMS’ potent Toyota backed development team along with the likes of Todd Gilliland, Kyle Benjamin, Christian Eckes, Justin Haley and Raphael Lessard.