Gordon Smiley was only 19 years old when he drove his first race and became SCCA National Champion four times prior to turning professional in 1974. He raced Formula Atlantic, Can-Am, Formula 5000 and Formula Super Vee for four years, setting 25 records with wins in each division. In 1979, he raced in the European Aurora Formula One Series for the Surtees Team, and in 11 races he had eight top-10 finishes, including a win at Silverstone, England. Smiley landed an IndyCar ride with Patrick Racing for the 1980 and 1981 Indianapolis 500-mile races. Tragically, Smiley was killed while practicing for the Indy 500 on May 15, 1982. He was inducted into the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2000.