Like the late great Teddy Christopher once said, ‘I didn’t come here to make friends, I brought mine with me.’
Dylan Smith has a lot of friends and they are backing his debut effort in the Snowflake 100 Pro Late Model race on Saturday night. More commonly known as the Black Mamba and the communications director for MDM Motorsports, Smith is one of the more beloved personalities in stock car racing.
So, when Smith began kicking the idea around to make the trip to Pensacola as a driver, he had no shortage of support.
Smith will be driving a car owned by Bryan Rogers, the president of Circle Track Warehouse in Mooresville, North Carolina. He took his car to the Gulf Coast in an ARCA hauler owned by Chad Bryant Racing.
But in true Mamba fashion, the 26-year-old is giving back to someone else too in the form of his sponsorship program.
“I’m at the point now where I’m racing about once a year so when I get the chance to get behind the wheel, I like to do it for a cause,” Smith told Short Track Scene on Tuesday. “That cause this weekend is my friend Daniel Smith, a tire changer at Stewart Haas Racing who is fighting testicular cancer.
“We’re working with the Movember Foundation and our goal is to raise $6,060 through the race and create some attention for everything the foundation does.”
The 60 symbolizes the fact that every minute, a male figure is lost to society due to suicide. So the cause is to offer awareness for cancer and suicide.
“We want people to think about these issues,” Smith said. “There is a stigma that we need to get past, so we can talk about it freely and get people healthy.”
The cause is there, but Mamba and company plan to have fun too. With most of the Snowball Derby taking place in Movember, Smith plans on taking selfies with everyone rocking a mustache this week.
But he’s also here to win, too.
Smith cut his teeth in Late Model Stock racing but a lack of funding has kept him off the track in recent years. But don’t let the relative rust fool you. Smith knows that with a week-long practice slate, he will have every opportunity to feel comfortable behind the wheel even if he doesn’t compete as regular as he wants to.
“I’ve had people ask if we can make the race,” Smith said. “Hell yeah, we can make the race. What in the world do you think we’re doing here if we didn’t think we could make the race.”
Smith is expecting a top-10, hoping for a top-five and will do whatever it takes to win if he finds himself in position late to park it in victory lane.
“Practice is going to be huge,” Smith said. “Luckily we have a lot of time. I’ve done a lot of iRacing to get ready and I’ve talked a bit with Brandon (McReynolds) and Harrison (Burton) about how to get around there.
“If we have a shot after 90 laps, I’m going to go for it. I’ve got a lot of friends. I’ve got to turn some heads this weekend. I don’t want to leave on Saturday with any regrets.”
And even though his driving career has stalled in recent years, Smith sees this as an opportunity. He’s had a surge of interest in recent months and believes there is a shot for him to race more next year. Success at Five Flags on Saturday could accelerate it.
“This is a weekend that makes careers,” Smith said. “I believe I can draw attention and make it work for sponsors. I’m confident in what I can do behind the wheel. We’ve been close on some things and I’d like to make a home in ARCA. Let’s see what happens.”
Smith will be driving a car that pays homage to five-time reigning Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton. It is the Silver Arrow with the blue fade that has found Victory Lane with great frequency this decade.
“I’m a big fan of Lewis’,” Smith said. “He’s been a huge inspiration to my career. I hope he gets a chance to see the car somehow because we’re very proud of it.”
Of course, victory lane at the Snowball Derby with his friends is awfully easy to spot.
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverAW) November 28, 2018