Veteran racer “Tricky Rickie” Smith returns to Bristol Dragway this Father’s Day weekend, ready to savor and repeat last season’s win in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
Smith, who is currently fourth in points, has yet to post a win through four races in the 250-mph doorslammer category, but he did post his best finish at the most recent race in Englishtown after advancing to the semifinals. Now, the crew chief/driver of the IDG Chevy Camaro will try to make winning a trend at his home away from home at Bristol Dragway and defend his event title as the NHRA Pro Mod Series makes its fifth of 10 stops June 14-16, at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers.
“I like to stay focused on the positive and think we are winners no matter where we place,” Smith said. “We have a good chance to win and plan to go all the way for the championship this season.”
For the King, N.C. native, focus and determination are winning traits that proved to be invaluable last season. After suffering a spectacular crash in 2011 at Bristol that caused him to take a hiatus from the sport due to a leg injury, Smith claimed the No. 1 qualifying position in Thunder Valley, earned his second win of the season and closed the 2012 season with a career-best fourth-place finish in points.
“It was definitely a good year last season,” Smith said. “To come back on top after a wreck the season prior was great. I’ve had a lot of success at Bristol and now I’m ready to do it again.”
When Smith pulls into Bristol, he’s not just any racer. He is a living legend at Thunder Valley. Smith dominated at the old Bristol Dragway back in the 1980s during his IHRA Pro Stock career and in the 1990s in NHRA Pro Stock. He is a member of the Legends of Thunder Valley, the track’s hall of fame, which also include such notables as Larry Carrier, Wally Parks and “Big Daddy” Don Garlits.
True to his legend, Smith continues to be a major attraction for local fans in the Tri-Cities region and he looks forward to seeing friends and family at his home away from home.
“It’s a real special deal for me to be inducted alongside the biggest NHRA legends like Wally Parks and Garlits,” Smith said. “It’s a special honor. I consider Bristol my home track and I look forward to returning every year. My entire family and friends come along since it’s so close to my home in North Carolina.”
Father’s Day will be on Sunday of race weekend and the Smith family has spent many holiday weekends family at the track. Rickie’s son, Matt Smith, is the 2009 NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion and his daughter-in-law, Angie Smith, is also a Pro Stock Motorcycle rider. For this family, the pit area is where memories are made.
“Father’s Day weekend at Bristol Dragway is always lots of fun and it is always special,” Smith said. “My wife and kids all come out. It was amazing to win last season with the family there and I plan to do it again in front of them.”
In addition to Smith, other NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series favorites include early season winner Von Smith, from nearby Oak Ridge, Tenn., defending world champ Troy Coughlin, and points leader Canadian Kenny Lang. Veteran racers Danny Rowe, Chip King of Semora, N.C. and Mike Castellana also will be in the hunt to win in Bristol, while others to watch include Englishtown champ Mike Janis, Clint Satterfield, Steve Matusek, Pete Farber and Mike Knowles.
(Photo by Ian Tocher)