Okay, Charlie Smith – Auto Action

By Garry O’Brien

MOTORSPORTS LEGEND and aviator Charlie Smith, passed away on October 15 at the age of 94. He began racing cars in the early 1950s and entered the first Australian touring car race in 1960.

Smith was born in New Lambton in 1928 and spent his early years on a small farm in Medowie before the family moved to Wentworthville, working as an electrician’s apprentice in the Eveleigh Railway shops.

He married Betty Knight in 1949 and became an electrical contractor, wiring new houses in the newly developed area of ​​Baulkham Hills.

His early career was at the first post-war motorcycle racing meeting at Bathurst in 1946, while he rode early RedeX and Mobilgas trials in Peugeots and a Holden.

Smith raced at Mt Druitt and Bathurst in the family car, a Fiat 1100, before modifying a pair of Morris Majors and taking Warwick Farm and Katoomba.

Noted by the BMC, the company made sure he received a new Austin Freeway when it was introduced in 1962.

After a Lotus Eleven, Smith bought the Elfin Formula Junior in which Frank Matich successfully raced and went on to win the 1963 NSW Formula Junior Championship at Catalina Park. Alec Mildren’s Lotus 23 followed, which Smith said was the best car he had ever raced.

When the first Production Car 500-mile race was held at Phillip Island in 1960, BMC entered three Morris Majors and three Austin Lancers and Smith co-drived with Brian Muir, but was not placed.

The following year he was in a Major with Bruce Maher but he retired with a broken suspension. In 1962 she raced on the Autopista before it was modified.

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From 1963 he was a regular in the 500 at Bathurst, where he co-driven with Maher, Barry Ferguson, Ron Jaylen, Barry Seton and Don Holland in Mini Coopers to win two classes and a second place. In 1969 he teamed up with Bill Ford in a car and XW GT Falcon for another second class.

Later, in his 70s, Smith bought a Series 4 Lotus Seven, took out a regular license and rode for around ten years. Then, reluctantly, he hung up the helmet one last time.

In 1955 he learned to fly, got his license and became a commercial pilot and instructor. He introduced Formula 1 world champions Jim Clark and Graham Hill to aviation during their visits to the Tasman series in the early 1960s.

Smith also had several business ventures that included shares in large cattle estates. He was also involved in car clubs, real estate development and a term as a Coffs Harbor Shire Councilor.

An Australian who achieved a lot in his life and AUTO ACTION extends its condolences to his family and friends.

For more of the latest motorsports news, read the latest issue of Auto Action.

AUTO ACTION, the independent voice of Australian motorsports.

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