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DI Interview: Rickie Smith

Fortunately it wasn’t life-threatening, but did Nancy ever ask you to cut back on racing after you were injured?

No. No, she, to this day, she knows I love this. She knows this is what I do, just like her job. Like I say, she’s a very religious woman and she believes like I do. When it’s time for me to go, I’m going. And if it’s in that race car, I’m happy. And like I told her, I said whether I’m at a local track and a guard rail ain’t right or it’s one of these big, fancy tracks where I’m at racing, if I get killed, don’t go suing them people. I’m the one that got in that car. They didn’t make me get in that car. I took that responsibility. I accepted that risk. I’m smart enough now to know if that track was really safe enough for me to run on. It ain’t the owner’s fault whatever happens. If I get in that car and they got guardrails up, or cement walls or whatever, it ain’t their fault. It’s my fault.

How did you meet your wife?

We met in high school, but she grew up in King, which is where we live now, and I was in Walnut Cove, a little town, and that’s where we went through the eighth grade, both of us. So we met in ninth grade, South Stokes High School, and kind of started dating halfway through the ninth grade and we got married three months before we got out of high school. We’ve been married soon to be 42 years. But you better put three more on that because we were basically married all the way through high school.

Why did you marry so young?

I wanted a family. I had a chance to go play football; I had scholarships that coaches told me I was probably going to get approached about at some smaller colleges around. I was voted Athlete of the Year through the coaches; I was named Most Valuable Player in football at the end of the season and that was always voted from the players. And that had never been done when I left there; it had never been done by anybody but a quarterback or running back. I was a middle linebacker and a right guard on offense, and got voted most valuable player. So that’s how hard I went at it, and the perspective from the players was when you take something like that away from a quarterback or running back, that was a pretty major deal. I had no clue I was going to win that deal, but that’s just how hard I’d been at it since I was in the ninth or tenth grade. When I play, I want to win.

How did your “Tricky Rickie” nickname come about?

That was given to me by Larry Waller; I’d say I got it sometime in the early-‘80s, maybe mid-‘80s, up in Nashville. He was the announcer at Farmington, too. He actually ran his own auto parts store for years before NAPA bought him out, but he did announcing on the side and he was a hell of an announcer.

This was back in the days of the Pro Stocks match racing a lot and we would get to playing games. Me and Ronnie Sox and Warren Johnson, we all got the starting-line games going. Just constantly we’d have a battle. They don’t do it no more and I think that’s the reason Pro Stock gets so boring. There’s no rivalry left these days.

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This story was originally published on April 25, 2014. Drag Illustrated

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