Smart’s humbleness and laid-back manner, along with his southern accent, don’t exactly mesh with the tough-guy persona the show’s title might lead you to believe about him. The pride in his son is evident, though.
“I’ve got the best boy on the face of the earth,” he said about his son.
Shane Austin Smart, 11, is a student at Springdale Elementary School and he’s his dad’s hero.
“He’s my hero, and I’m his,” said the elder Smart, describing how he strived to stay true to himself and make his son proud while doing something not many people get to do.
Smart, a trucker from the Forge Ridge area, stars on the Discovery Channel’s “World’s Toughest Trucker” which is currently airing on Monday evenings at 10 p.m.
The show’s description on the Discovery Channel website reads: “From transporting cattle through the desolate, sun baked roads of the Australian Outback to carrying fragile loads through the icy, treacherous Indian Himalayas, eight of the world’s most experienced truck drivers go head to head in some of the harshest environments on earth.”
How did a guy from Harrogate get a starring role on such a “reality” show?
Smart’s journey to television started at a trade show in Louisville, Ky., where there was a booth set up for auditions for the show. He said a lady walked up to him and said he looked like “a real tough truck driver” and talked him into auditioning for the show.
After going through an arduous auditioning process, Smart received word he would be on the show.
“I had two goals in mind when I started this,” Smart said. “One was that at least one kid in the world would have someone to look up to.”
His second goal was to hopefully get some positive press for the trucking industry that’s been a part of his entire life.
“We don’t always have the best reputation and I wanted to clear that up and show that I could be a real man,” he said, “and I wanted to show we could live a good, clean, honest life.”
Smart, 37, said he feels like he accomplished those two goals with the first show.
“Kids see the positive, not the negative,” he said. “Kids see someone to look up to.”
The competition takes place around the world. It began with eight contestants, starting in four teams of two. The show picked the teams.
“We basically travel around the world,” he said, “doing the toughest jobs around the world.”
Smart was teamed with Zola Rajapakse, who grew up in Sri Lanka. They didn’t get along very well, but were able to bond somewhat over their love for their kids. Rajapakse has an 11-year-old daughter. Viewers will have to tune in to see what happens with the team.
“We wrapped up taping in October,” Smart said with a laugh, “but I can’t say what happened.”
Smart owns and operates Heavy and Specialized Hauling, Inc. He said he moves “anything big and heavy - super loads.” During his absence while doing the show, he had reliable people who kept his business going.
“I want to thank everyone who cares for me and supported me during all of this,” he said. “Only a handful of people knew, and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Although they’ve already aired for the first time, the first two episodes will show again on the Discovery Channel at 2 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25. The third new episode will air on Monday, Feb. 27, at 10 p.m.
As for now, Smart is enjoying his time back home and more importantly time with his son.
“We’ve had some blessings, that’s for sure,” he said. “I didn’t realize just how much exposure there would be and my son didn’t ask for that. But I could never have imagined how supportive everyone has been. I just appreciate everyone’s support.”