First off, Rickie Smith won the title with still one event to go – Las Vegas, near the end of October, is final event of season – beating out the likes of Mike Janis, Von Smith and defending champ Troy Coughlin. It was a huge hurdle, but all the contenders lost in first round at Gateway Motorsports Park, while Rickie went all the way to the final before losing to Mike Castellana at the Midwest Nationals. Including two wins this year, Smith has an insurmountable 142 point lead heading into Las Vegas. With the win, Castellana moved into second place overall.
‘Tricky Rickie’ Smith was sponsored by IDG Supply the past three seasons – they are an industrial parts distributor. Ironically, his sponsor would like him to race another year but 2013 will be his last. Of note: the championship wasn’t Smith’s first in his illustrious career but amazingly he hadn’t won a title in almost 25 years. Said Smith afterwards,
“It’s been a long time since we won a championship; we won seven titles [IHRA Pro Stock and Super Modified], but the last one was in 1989.”
What some people might not know is the 59 year old Smith once tried his hand at circle track racing including the NASCAR Busch Grand National events with a best finish of 16th at the half-mile Myrtle Beach Speedway in 1988.
King of the mountain in the IHRA
Smith is from North Carolina and started his drag racing career in the mid-70’s, racing everything from Pro Stock to Super Modified to Pro Mod. In fact he won every IHRA Super Modified race he entered in 1977. Most know he was king of mountain motors in the Pro Stock division of the IHRA back in the 80’s. He was the first Pro Stocker to break the seven second barrier and also was the first to go 180 and later 200 mph. Rickie won a total of seven IHRA championships and considers the IHRA his roots.
His first foray into Pro Mod was 1997 in the IHRA and was the first NHRA Pro Mod race winner in 2001. He also drove in the ADRL winning multiple times.
Smith won’t actually be leaving the sport – drag racing is always in your blood – and in fact, he will continue to crew chief. However, the daily grind and being a driver will come to an end at Las Vegas.
Congratulations are in order for Rickie Smith’s 2013 Pro Mod championship – one of the most popular classes in drag racing.
Smith is set to retire and may not even race at Las Vegas. On the other hand, there are rumors that he indeed might don a drivers suit once again and drive in 2014 with IDG Supply sponsorship … so the story continues.
Daryle W. Hier