“I am more than thrilled to be in this deal and have people like that think enough of me to put me in something like this,” stated “Tricky” Rickie Smith, one of the greatest Pro Mod racers of all-time and winningest NHRA Pro Mod driver of all-time.
Smith is celebrating 50 years of drag racing this year and 41 years of racing professionally, However, it was a bit of a surprise for the legendary racer when he received the news of his inclusion in this prestigious group.
“It’s pretty much the biggest honor you can get out of drag racing. Being in the Hall of Fame is a major accomplishment.” Remembering his early days, he added, “I started racing in 1973, taking a car to the drag strip.”
He fondly recalled another cherished milestone, stating, “[Before this] it was putting my name on the tower at Bristol Motor Speedway beside Don Garlits’ legendary career and Wally Parks. I went in as the first four on that tower, and that was probably the time that I realized maybe I’ve made it, maybe I’ve got a name for myself out here.”
Though Rickie announced his retirement from full-time racing in previous years, his passion for the sport remains undiminished. He recently qualified number one at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals in the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. However, 2024 will see him donning the hat of a crew chief for a few cars in the PDRA.
“When I started, I had no idea about the Hall of Fame,” Smith continued. “That was never even a question in my mind – but the more you race, the better you do, and the last 10, 15 years, you kind of wonder if you can get in there.”
The other esteemed inductees for 2024 include Pat Austin, Walt Austin, Walt Barbin, Joe Gibbs, Pamela Hardy, Garth Hogan, Scott Kalitta, and Gary Southern.
Founded by Don and Pat Garlits in 1990, the Hall of Fame has celebrated the achievements and contributions of drag racing pioneers for over three decades. The induction ceremony is set for Thursday, March 7, 2024, at the Hilton UF Conference Center in Gainesville, Florida, prior to the NHRA Gatornationals.