British racing driver Guy Smith, one of the Bentley factory drivers, was a successful sports car and open-wheel racer before he focused on GT racing. During the 1990s, he won British Formula Renault and finished third in the Indy Lights series. Smith debuted at Le Mans in 2000 and participated eight times, gaining the biggest success in 2003, taking the overall victory in the world's greatest endurance race. In recent years, Smith was 2011 American Le Mans champion.
Plenty of second places early in a career
Guy Smith was born on September 12, 1974, in Beverley, Yorkshire. As a teenager, he started racing with go-karts, winning the British Championship in 1987 and finishing second in 1991 World Championship. In the same year, he entered his first car racing competition. It was the Formula First Winter Series, in which he was second. Another second place finish followed in the 1992 Formula Vauxhall Junior, with five wins on his account.
The next competition was Formula Ford in 1993 and Smith again finished as a runner-up, for the third year in a row. He moved to Formula Vauxhall Lotus in 1994. This time, he wasn't second but third in the points. He represented Great Britain in the Formula Opel Lotus Nations Cup and finished sixth.
In 1995, Guy was British Formula Renault champion
In 1995, Smith entered the British Formula Renault Championship and took his first title in a career, driving for Manor Motorsport. With the same team, he participated also in the Formula Renault Eurocup, winning three races and finishing fourth overall. Good performances brought him a test with Renault-powered Williams Formula 1 car.
Two seasons in Formula 3
The next step on the racing ladder was the British Formula 3, in which he was driving the Mitsubishi-powered Dallara F396 for Fortec Motorsport. He won the season-opening race and added four more podiums and finished sixth in the points at the end of the season. At the non-championship Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix, Smith was driving the Toyota-powered car for Tom's team and he finished 10th.
For the first time in a career, Guy remained in the same series and he competed at the 1997 British F3 Championship, but this time for DC Cook Motorsport. The season was less successful than the previous one, as he scored only one podium and finished in the ninth place. In July 1997, Guy had a one-off appearance in the FIA GT Championship, driving the Saleen Mustang for Cirtek Motorsport at the Spa 4-hour race and finishing 13th in GT2 class.
Rookie of the Year in the 1998 Indy Lights series
In 1998, Guy Smith moved to America and joined Johansson Motorsport, the team of former F1 driver Stefan Johansson, to compete in the Indy Lights series. With two wins in fourteen races, Smith was the Rookie of the Year and he finished third in the overall standings. For 1999 Indy Lights season, Smith joined Forsythe Racing. He didn't win and scored only two podiums and finished ninth in the points.
Le Mans debut with Stefan Johansson's team
In 2000, Smith made a significant change in a career, moving to sports car racing. He joined Johansson Matthews Racing to drive Reynard 2KQ prototype. His debut race was 24 hours of Daytona, alongside Stefan Johansson, Jim Matthews and Memo Gidley. They finished 23rd.
Smith competed for a whole season of the American Le Mans Series with JMR, without wins and podiums, with fifth place as the best result. The trio Johansson-Matthews-Smith participated also at 2000 24 hours of Le Mans. In his Le Mans debut, Smith didn't reach the finish, since they retired after 133 laps.
Smith joined Bentley at 2001 Le Mans race
In 2001, Smith remained with Johansson Motorsport in the ALMS, scoring the fourth place at 12 hours of Sebring with Audi R8. In April, Johansson and Smith took the podium with the same car in the European Le Mans Series race at Donington, finishing third. At Le Mans 24-hour race, Smith joined Bentley factory team in the #7 Bentley EXP Speed 8, sharing the car with Martin Brundle and Stephane Ortelli. They retired early, after just 56 laps, when the car caught fire while Smith was driving.
Second place at Daytona 24h
In 2002, Guy Smith didn't drive much, just two races, but he was successful in both races he entered. In February, he finished second at Rolex 24 at Daytona, driving the Jim Matthews Racing's Riley & Scott MkIIIC prototype. His co-drivers were Scott Sharp, Robby Gordon and Jim Matthews. In March, Smith, Matthews and Marc Goossens competed with the same car at 12 hours of Sebring and finished third.
Guy won 2003 Le Mans race with Kristensen and Capello
The rest of the year Smith spent as a test driver for Team Bentley, but he didn't participate in any race. Smith returned to Le Mans in 2003, partnering Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello in the #7 Bentley Speed 8. The trio took the overall victory, which was fifth for Kristensen and first for his teammates.
Prior to Le Mans, the #7 Bentley crew finished fourth at 12 hours of Daytona. During the year, Smith also had two appearances with Ferrari 360 Modena in the FIA GT Championship.
2004 - Champ Car season and second place at Le Mans
In 2004, Smith returned to the open-wheel car racing, participating in the second part of the season of the Champ Car World Series with Rocketsports Racing. In seven races, his best result was a pair of ninth places, in Las Vegas and Surfers Paradise.
He was much more successful in prototype racing, taking the third place overall at 12 hours of Sebring, where he was driving the #88 Audi R8 for Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx, alongside Johnny Herbert and Jamie Davies. The same crew participated with the same car at 2004 24 hours of Le Mans and they finished second overall, behind Audi R8 of the Audi Sport Japan Team Goh.
Smith joined Dyson Racing in 2005
In 2005, Smith didn't return to the open-wheelers anymore. He joined Orbit Racing in the Grand American Rolex Series, driving the Pontiac-Riley prototype in seven races. In the American Le Mans Series, he was driving Lola EX257 for Dyson Racing, scoring a second place at Petit Le Mans, which was the best result of the season.
Smith was skipping Le Mans for three years in a row, from 2005 to 2007. In that period, he competed mostly in America's competitions – American Le Mans Series and Grand American Rolex Series, regularly visiting Daytona and Sebring. In 2006, his cars were Crawford DP03-Pontiac of Howard - Boss Motorsports and Lola B06/10 of Dyson Racing. He scored four podiums with Dyson's car and finished sixth in the ALMS classification.
Switching to Porsche power in 2007
For 2007, Smith remained with the same two teams, that switched to Porsche cars. At Daytona 24 hours, Howard Motorsports' Crawford-Porsche retired after 295 laps. Dyson Racing was running the Porsche RS Spyder and Smith entered full ALMS season for the first time. With one podium (Petit Le Mans) in twelve races, he finished fourth in the LMP2 class final standings.
In the 2008 ALMS season, Smith reached only one podium, finishing third in the class at 12 hours of Sebring. In other races, Dyson Racing's #16 Porsche RS Spyder missed podiums, so Smith finished sixth in the points.
Two Le Mans attempts with Quifel ASM Team
In June 2008, Smith returned to Le Mans, joining the Quifel ASM Team to drive Lola B05/40-AER, alongside Miguel Amaral and Olivier Pla. They finished 20th overall and fourth in the LMP2 class. With the same team and the same co-driver, Smith participated in 2009 Le Mans race, but they switched to Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S/2 prototype. The race didn't last long, as they retired after 46 laps.
Smith's main competition in 2009 was the American Le Mans Series. He was driving Dyson Racing's Lola B09/86 (Mazda) and reached four podiums and finished fourth in the points.
Two more Le Mans participations with Rebellion Racing
The similar programme followed in 2010, with Dyson Racing's prototype in the ALMS and two races in Europe, including 24 hours of Le Mans. In the 2010 ALMS classification, Smith was sixth in the points, winning one race (Mid-Ohio). For 2010 Le Mans race, Smith joined Rebellion Racing to drive the #13 Lola B10/60, alongside Andrea Belicchi and Jean-Christophe Boullion. The trio retired after 143 laps.
The same trio returned again to 2011 Le Mans race, again in the Rebellion Racing LMP1 prototype.The change of the engine supplier, from Judd to Toyota, didn't help the team, as #13 retired after 190 laps.
Guy won 2011 ALMS title alongside Chris Dyson
Smith was much more successful in the 2011 American Le Mans Series season and he finally took the title. The #16 Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 was the victorious car in one out of nine races, but Smith added seven more podiums and dominantly took the title, together with Chris Dyson.
One more season with Dyson Racing followed in 2012. Smith scored two wins and ten podiums, but it wasn't enough for another title because German duo Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr were better for just nine points. The 2013 ALMS season was the last one for Guy Smith in the Dyson Racing's car. He participated in six races, scored three podiums and finished six in the points.
Switching to Bentley Continental GT3 in 2013
It was the year when Smith competed for the first time with Bentley Continental GT3, taking the fourth place at Gulf 12 hours at Yas Marina Circuit. Smith's co-drivers in the #7 M-Sport's car were Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick.
For 2014 season, Guy Smith became the official Bentley Boy, driving the Continental GT3 in various competitions (Blancpain Endurance Series, Pirelli World Challenge and VLN). With two wins in five races (Silverstone and Paul Ricard), Smith and his teammates (Kane and Meyrick) finished second in the final standings of the Blancpain Endurance Series. They repeated the second-place finish again in the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series, with three podiums in five races.
In 2016, Guy Smith remains with M-Sport Bentley in the Blancpain Endurance Series but he also joins Bentley Team Abt in the ADAC GT Masters.