Peachtree City rides in NASCAR’s top two series


All photos via Wikimedia Commons (Flag: Mikefairbanks; Sorenson and Smithley: Royalbroil) under Creative Commons license

Reed Sorenson (top) went to Woodward Academy and played many sports throughout his childhood. He made the decision to focus on racing at around 13 years old. Garrett Smithley (bottom) is originally from Pennsylvania, but moved to Peachtree City in middle school. He attended Booth Middle School and McIntosh High School.

Fayette County has produced a plethora of talent in many of the most popular sports across the nation. NFL stars Calvin Johnson, Sam Martin and Brandon Boykin, Myles Jaye in the MLB, and even World Cup champion Kelly O’Hara have walked the hallways and the graduation stages of Fayette County schools in the last 15 years.

The talent, however, does not stop there. Fayette County, Peachtree City to be exact, has been home to two NASCAR drivers, Reed Sorenson and Garrett Smithley.

Sorenson, a veteran of NASCAR, has been competing part-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since 2005, and had 15 top ten finishes in that time. Smithley, an up and coming talent, has been racing full time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series since 2015.

From an early age, both drivers enjoyed fast cars and the spirit of competition. Staying in Georgia and moving to Peachtree City at 11 years old, Sorenson was already experienced on the track. Beginning around the age of six, he had fallen in love with his father’s favorite hobby, racing, and began competing in quarter-midgets, becoming the national champion in 1997.

I can remember playing with matchbox cars on the church pew every Sunday.

— Xfinity Series driver Garrett Smithley

“[Racing] was something I really enjoyed and I was successful at it from a young age,” Sorenson said.

Although Smithley enjoyed the sport early on and watched it when he was as young as three years old, he did not get his start behind the wheel until much later.

“I can remember playing with matchbox cars on the church pew every Sunday,” Smithley said. “I always had a passion for racing.”

Moving to Georgia from Pennsylvania in middle school, Smithley was suddenly immersed in a new local love for NASCAR. While going to Booth Middle School and participating in baseball and theater, he also joined Boy Scout Troop 175. After a few years of living in the Peach State and in his first year at McIntosh High School, Smithley attended a race day at Atlanta Motor Speedway. After experiencing the atmosphere and thrill NASCAR offers, he decided to sign up for a test drive.

“I tested a Bandolero race car at Atlanta Motor Speedway and drove 20 laps,” Smithley said. “They told me I needed to find a car because I showed some talent.”

Smithley received a Bandolero racing car from a local Delta pilot. Following this lucky break, he raced against other Bandoleros for two years and then, for his final year of high school, began his transition to Legend Cars.

In 1999, [Soreson] won 30 of 50 races, and for the next two years, tallied a total of 84 victories.

— Sports co-Editor John Webb

Around the same age, Sorenson, a multi-sport athlete in baseball, basketball, and football, decided to hang up the sneakers and cleats to focus specifically on racing.

Both drivers found success early in their careers.

After Sorenson won the national quarter-midgets championship, he joined Legend cars. From 1998 to 2001, he dominated. During his first year, he won 13 of 25 races while breaking track records in the process. In 1999, he won 30 of 50 races, and for the next two years, tallied a total of 84 victories.

In 2002, Sorenson began racing for the American Speed Association at just the age of 17. He won the Pat Schauer Rookie of the Year award after finishing top ten in seven of his eight total starts. 

Making his debut in the upper ranks as a NASCAR driver in 2005, Sorenson finished his first season fourth in points as well as second in the Rookie of the Year standings for the Xfinity Series, bested only by Carl Edwards. He also appeared in two Monster Energy Cup Series events at just the age of 19.

Over the next 12 years, Sorenson would go on to compete in 288 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and achieve his highest rank in the 2007 season when he finished 22nd in points. He also has raced in 207 Xfinity Cup Series events since 2004, and has won four.

Smithley’s career began to take off as he was named Rookie of the Year in 2008 while racing Bandoleros at both Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton and Lanier National Speedway in Braselton. Shortly after, he was invited to the Richard Petty Drivers Search, an opportunity for members of the public to drive real NASCAR cars, where he provided ride alongs and gained valuable experience in stock cars.

Prior to making it to the Xfinity Series, Smithley raced in the ARCA Racing Series as well as the Camping World Truck Series.

Smithley has not yet competed in the Monster Energy Cup Series, but is well know in the Xfinity Cup Series ranks. Since 2015, the 23-year-old has had four top-ten finishes in 67 races and made a splash to kick off the 2018 season this past weekend, earning his first ever top-five finish in the PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway. 

“Every step of the way the competition has been harder, but I feel like I’ve adapted very well at moving through the ladder,” Smithley added.

Although Sorenson and Smithley are in different stages of their respective careers, both drivers are proud products of Peachtree City. With NASCAR’s top three series heading to Hampton, this weekend, local fans can enjoy the same sport that has made these two local drivers famous.

Sorenson has not announced racing plans at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend, but Smithley will drive the #0 car for JD Motorsports in the Xfinity Series race on Feb. 24.

Tickets for three days of racing are still available. Kids ages 12 and under get in free Saturday with a paid adult general admission ticket. Go to or call 877-9-AMS-TIX for more information.