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TRACKS & EVENTS
By Tim Glover
Although third generation racer Timothy "Timmy" Smith just turned 16 years old this past July, he has already made his presence well known in the bracket racing world. Smith's dad, Mike, who has won numerous bracket races and a Race of Champions in the family's '71 Vega Wagon, turned over driving duties to Timothy this year, and it didn't take the younger Smith long to find the winner's circle. Smith won his first race and $3000 in the Door Car class during the Super Eliminator race at Atlanta Dragway on July 28, just 26 days after his sixteenth birthday. Some might call that beginner's luck. You might not convince Snap-On Tools man Marty Wiles of that, however. The following Saturday, Smith beat Wiles, who had a .500 light and dead-on with a five in his dragster, by laying down a better .502 react and 6.841 on a 6.84 at the "Hottest Deal In Drag Racing" event in Montgomery, Alabama. He won another three grand and an NHRA "Wally" for that win. (The same weekend, his dad Mike's dragster blew a head gasket, so they doubled up in the Vega Wagon. Mike ended up winning Sunday's race, which netted him another "Wally".) Timothy Smith also got down to three cars at the Atlanta Dragway B&M race on September 1, 2002.
His dad, Mike Smith, bought the Vega Wagon Timothy now races from its car owner, Keith Nelson, more than 15 years ago after Mike won a $5K race with it at Atlanta. Smith has made the car even more deadly through the years, and has been rewarded with numerous bracket race wins, two ET finals championships, a Race of Champions win and the recent win at the "Hottest Deal In Drag Racing" event in Montgomery. Timothy has already earned a 50th anniversary "Wally", thousands of dollars and many rounds less than two months into his racing career.
Mike did not want him to start racing until he was closer to 17 years old. However, his "Papa", Larry Smith, who started drag racing back when the nearby Omaha dragstrip was dirt, had different ideas, and helped convince Mike to let Timothy drive, which turned out to be a very good decision. He didn't get his state driver's license until after he won his first race. "I wasn't in any hurry. I haven't even asked for a (regular) car yet," Smith added.
Unlike other recent young winners, Smith doesn't have any Jr. Dragster experience. His dad told him, "In a few years you'll be driving a big car," and, as it turns out, he didn't need the experience. He did get a little racing experience just before he turned 16 by driving the Vega at Phenix City, but said he didn't do any good there.
He said he has always wanted to race. Technically, he was going to drag races even before he was born since his mom Patsy always went to bracket races with his dad. "That's all I talk about," Timothy added.
Smith is currently in tenth grade at Handley High School in Roanoke, AL. His classmates had a hard time believing he has already won so much, but he said they quickly became quiet after pulling up the results on the Internet.
During the week, Smith helps his dad in their shop. Part of his weekly routine is to unload the trailer and put the race cars in the shop. He then helps his dad with whatever maintenance is required.
Part of his racing success can be credited to his age. "I'm young and I love it. I don't have any worries when I get there (race track) and none when I get back home. I don't have any bills. It's a lot easier to focus." He has run into racers who asked him (after he shook their hands prior to making a pass), "Are you the driver?" Smith said, "Some people don't believe I drive. I do." He also gave a lot of credit for his success to his family. He thanked his mom for letting him race, and his dad and Papa for supporting and encouraging his racing.
Smith said he would like to drive a Pro Stock car when he gets older, but then added, "I don't know if it will ever happen." Maybe, maybe not. However, this guy has only just begun. We'll see what the future has in mind for him.