Remembering Don Smith

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Whether you are a race fan or not, chances are you have heard the name Don Smith. He put Terre Haute on the map through his impact on the community and the Terre Haute Action Track.

Smith passed away on Sunday.  There will be a private funeral and a celebration of life next Wednesday at the Hulman Center from 3-6PM.

While Smith brought big names like A.J. Foyt to the Action Track the only thing more impressive is the friendship and personality Smith shared with everyone he met.

Outside the Action Track you’ll find a plaque acknowledging Don Smith’s contributions and serving as a forever memorial to his love of racing.

“He did a lot for the action track. He was a big supporter and a big reason of some of the events we still have there today adding to the notoriety of that facility nationwide,” said Action Track Promoter Bob Sargent.

One of those events still going on, the Hulman Classic. When Don Smith served on the board of directors for USAC Racing, Smith was able to bring drivers from the Indy 500 to the Action Track for a dirt race against local guys.

“He knew individuals from clear at the top of our sport and our society and he dealt with a lot of the local guys also so that’s just another testament to Don Smith,” said Sargent

Smith’s direct influence on racing is still alive on the track today. Tyler Courtney is a sprint car racer from Indiana who got his start mainly because of Smith.

“I grew up racing at the quarter midget track right down the road. He was a critical part in starting my career in midgets and sprint cars and stuff,” said Courtney.

While Smith’s impact in racing is more visual, Smith’s impact outside of racing in the community is just as important.

“I like to call him one of our Historic Hautians, I think that’s what he should probably be known as for his many contributions to our community.” said Marylee Hagan of the Vigo County Historic Socitey.

And those contributions include providing leadership in local business as president and C.E.O. of First Financial Bank.

Don Smith was an Indiana State University trustee. He also was a staunch supporter of ISU athletics.
 

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