BRISTOL, Tenn. – Veteran racer 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 at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers, June 14-16.
“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.”
Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars, and an extremely diverse collection of vehicles, including ’63 Corvettes, ’68 Camaros, ’67 Mustangs, ’68 Firebirds and a number of late-model cars, the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every hot-rodding enthusiast.
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.
• SCHEDULE: NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, June 14 and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 15. The first round of Pro Mod eliminations begins on Saturday, June 15 at 4 p.m. Pro Mod eliminations continue on Sunday, June 16.
• TICKETS: Tickets are available for the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers by calling (423) 989-6900 or purchasing online at www.bristoldragway.com.
• ON THE WEB: Get live timing, scoring, multimedia and the latest news updates from every NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series event on the Internet at www.nhra.com. Visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES FACT SHEET
FORD NHRA THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS PRESENTED BY TRI-CITIES AREA FORD DEALERS
WHAT: Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Presented By Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers, the fifth of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Other racing series showcased during this event include the NHRA Mello Yello Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Series.
WHERE: Bristol Dragway, Bristol, TN. The track is located at 151 Speedway Blvd., Bristol, TN
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 700 feet above sea level; Track direction is southwest to northeast
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, June 14-16.
FRIDAY, June 14
NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES qualifying at 5 and 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, June 15
NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES qualifying at 2 p.m.; first round of eliminations at 4 p.m.
SUNDAY, June 16
Pre-race ceremonies, 11 a.m.
NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES eliminations continue at approximately 2:30 p.m.
2012 WINNER: Rickie Smith
TRACK RECORDS: 5.888 sec. by Rickie Smith, June ’12; 252.80 mph by Brad Personett, June ’11.
NATIONAL RECORDS: 5.772 sec. by Melanie Troxel, June ’11, Englishtown; 258.71 mph by Troxel, June ’11, Englishtown.
NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the fourth of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
1. Kenny Lang, 278; 2. Troy Coughlin, 271; 3. Von Smith, 253; 4. Rickie Smith, 240; 5. Mike Janis, 234; 6. Mike Castellana, 228; 7. Clint Satterfield, 227; 8. Chip King, 225; 9. Danny Rowe, 210; 10. Pete Farber, 196.