Drag Illustrated Issue 168, May 2021 - Page 70

ANGIE
SMITH

ANGIE

WOMEN

OF POWER 2021

SMITH

SUNNY SKIES , COOL TEMPERATURES and a stunning spring forecast at zMAX Dragway in mid-May meant a picture-perfect weekend for drag racing . It also means Angie Smith wouldn ’ t have a free moment from racing — or whatever else her task list might include — during the early-season NHRA race in Charlotte . ¶ That ’ s nothing new for the Pro Stock Motorcycle standout these days , where each race weekend sees Smith accomplish the equivalent of running a five-ring circus . ¶ There ’ s the racing , of course , where Smith has come into her own in recent seasons . There ’ s also the bike maintenance , repairs , and changes , an area of improvement where Smith arguably takes the most pride in . ¶ There ’ s also team upkeep , meal planning , event logistics , and , heck , even making sure everyone is on-brand .
In short , it ’ s a far cry from Smith ’ s role early in her racing career in the Outlaw Pro Street ranks , where Smith raced and , well , that was about it .
“ When I raced outlaw , Pro Street , I didn ’ t understand the fundamentals of the bike . Literally , I would come back from a run and I ’ d sit in the chair , and wait till we went and made the next run ,” Smith says .
That ’ s been the most special part of Smith ’ s evolution in the sport .
She ’ s gone from a mere racer to an expert in every area . When she first started racing with her future husband , four-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Matt Smith , doing it all and contributing in every way possible was a foreign concept .
Now , though , there ’ s not an area where Angie Smith doesn ’ t thrive . It ’ s made her a power player — and part of an impressive power couple — in the sport and well-respected in every regard of racing .
In looking at her journey , which started on a Suzuki GSX-R1100 at a local test and tune , continued with her 2004 championship in Outlaw Pro Street and has led to her becoming the first female to go 200 mph on her Denso EBR Pro Stock Motorcycle , it ’ s that evolution in all aspects that have helped Smith carve out her own special , unique place in the sport .
“ I am so appreciative of it now because I can give [ Matt ] so much feedback on what the motorcycle ’ s doing , on what goes on in the run . I am building an engine and I ’ m very involved in this race team , everything from what we ’ re going to eat on the weekends to horsepower numbers , to put motors together . I ’ m very involved . I ’ m so glad that he made me learn that , just because it makes me appreciate , and makes me a better rider , and it helps him tune the bike ,” Smith says .
“ That is why , when we ’ re on the starting line and one of our bikes does well , it ’ s not that I ’ m being unsportsmanlike to the other team . It ’ s just , I ’ m so happy for our team because I feel like things that I have done , contributed for us to win the race . I ’ m very excited and very happy when we win a race . A lot of people don ’ t understand what I do behind the scenes . I know my team knows , but a lot of people don ’ t understand that I ’ m at the shop , seven days a week , building engines .
“ I ’ m at the shop every day , hands-on , getting my hands dirty , cleaning parts , putting engines together . You name it , I think I do it , and a lot of people don ’ t understand that that is such an important part of my life now .” It ’ s been such a defining part of Smith ’ s growth
SMITH FINISHED HER 2020 SEASON IN STYLE , WINNING THE NHRA WORLD FINALS AT THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY . and something she never thought possible two decades ago .
She grew up around circle track racing but was immediately drawn to drag racing ’ s unique female presence , where she was emboldened by the success of star riders like Angelle Sampey and Karen Stoffer .
She immediately thought , “ Why not me ?”
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