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"I came here with just one motor because I didn't want to bring my NHRA stuff, but I didn't mean to be as soft on the tune-up as I was the first two runs when it was hot," Smith admitted. "Luckily it cooled down, the track stayed tight, and we were able to step it up."


The first time Rickie Smith did something significant as a professional drag racer at Rockingham Dragway, he was afraid that he had gotten in trouble. In May 1980, Smith made a quick run during the IHRA Pro Am Nationals and at the end of the track was summoned back to the starting line by a race official. 

Little did Smith know he had made drag racing history by becoming the first Pro Stock driver into the seven-second zone and the summons was nothing more than a matter of recognizing his achievement? 

Friday, during the ADRL Dragstock event, the seven-time world champion made a quick run and was summoned to the starting line again. This time, Smith knew he had done something significant. 

Smith covered the eighth-mile in 4.039 seconds at 185.10 to defeat Kevin Rivenbark and capture his first Pro Modified Battle for the Belts title.

“I really wanted to get a Battle for the Belts crown,” said Smith. “I’m close to retiring and I don’t know what else I can do in my career. I’ve won everything I could win and I’m so tickled. God has blessed me and my family so much that it ain’t even funny. My whole family is blessed. I just praise the Lord and there’s no way with all of the stuff I’ve done in life and the roads I have been down that I could have done this by myself. The Lord rode with me today.”

Smith has numerous trophies, but on Friday night he added a new and very special piece of hardware to his awards case.

“Back in the IHRA Winston days, we got big belt buckles,” said Smith. “But they were never anything this big. This is like a rasslin’ belt buckle. This is impressive; to win that big belt … I never figured I’d get another chance to win one of these. I’m just glad we could pull it off.” 

Smith entered Friday’s competition fourth in ADRL points and leading the NHRA.

“This is our year and I hope we can hang in there,” said Smith. “I don’t want to use all of our luck up quite yet.”

Smith’s victory came courtesy of a strong performance and he reached the finals by scoring low elapsed time of all three rounds. He used a 3.887 to beat Jimmy Keen and then a 3.847 to beat a red-lighting Raymond Matos.

--Article and Pictures courtesty of



I’m not going to say one way or the other right now, but I will say one thing, we won the first Pro Mod race NHRA ever had and it would be a heck of a time for me to walk away because I won my last race and the championship at the same time. It would just be perfect to go. I don’t know whether I am or not."

Smith’s victory was his third of the season and seventh of his NHRA Pro Mod career. Smith made history in the process, becoming the first NHRA driver to win back-to-back Pro Mod world championships.

“The only problem is I don’t want to stay out here until I’m not competitive or not winning,” Smith said. “We see some racers stay too long and I’m 61 (years old) pretty soon, and yes, I’m competitive and I feel I can drive these cars probably as good as anybody. I handle it in bad situations. Like I told my crew chief, it isn’t all about cutting lights. You’ve got to know where you want to stage up there. You got to know when it shakes, when to pedal. That’s where I have won these two championships, being able to drive the car when the car isn’t acting right.”

Smith also believes he still has the hunger to drive.

“I don’t know that I have lost my edge, I don’t know that anybody can say that,” Smith said. “I got beat on some holeshots this year, but that’s what we are bitching about with the tech department. They want parity and parity is good, but you can ask any Sportsman racer or anybody out here when you leave it on your thumb with an automatic versus your foot with a clutch, you are two or three hundredths better with that thumb. Electricity is faster than that clutch, and that’s what we are trying to tell them. Every time I’ve got beat this year on a holeshot it has been against somebody with a button. I’m within a hundredth up there with anybody with a clutch, but I can’t leave with those guys with a button and I don’t know anybody else can hardly either.”

At Vegas, Smith, who resides in King, N.C., clinched another world crown when he defeated Richard Snavely in the second round. Smith added two more wins over points runner-up Troy Coughlin and Don Walsh to grab the victory.

“I just think the world of IDG and NHRA for letting us race in front of these fans,” Smith said. “This is the only ballpark in drag racing, we all know that. You can have all these other sanctioning bodies you want to and the racers need it, but NHRA is the big house and there’s no better place to win than right here.”

Smith acknowledged he was plenty nervous before the Las Vegas event. The Vegas race concluded NHRA’s 10-race season schedule.

“Come Thursday (Oct. 30) I was about a basket case,” Smith said. “I wanted to win this thing. It’s hard to win one round out here with a nitrous car. My car has just been awesome out here and for a nitrous car it has been unreal. It was a lot of stress on me all week. I will never stay out here (Las Vegas) for two weeks again and be this miserable going into the race.”

Smith also wasn’t making any excuses or was upset because he didn’t clinch his latest championship before the season’s final race.

“I was a little disgusted, but I’m not kicking my butt because I didn’t do anything stupid,” Smith said. “I got beat on some holeshots by Von (Smith), and when you go back and look I was within a hundredth or quick as anybody with a clutch. I just got beat. It was meant to be. The Lord meant to bring us down here (Las Vegas) and put a little stress on me and let me enjoy this thing this way. Usually this stuff is meant to be one way or the other and that’s the kind of way I try to race and not try and beat myself up there.”

Smith also took a moment to reflect on his historic season.

“It has been a heck of a year,” Smith said. “I have bitched and moaned and carried on with some of these guys, but I think that is good for the class. You have to have a little camaraderie and you have to have some arguments going on. If you don’t get something going on, it is kind of dead. You take (Bob) Glidden, and Warren (Johnson) and Ronnie Sox and me and we all had that rivalry years ago. It didn’t mean we were going to fight and be mad, but we staged battles and would get out and cuss each other out, but it was good for the sport. Right now the Pro Stock guys just want to come up and here and race like Super Gas guys. They want to do their burnout, stage up and go. Fans don’t get into that. They better start doing something or that class is not looking real happy right now.”

--Article and Pictures from

Smith captured his second consecutive Pro Mod Drag Racing Series season championship when he won at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

“I had all intentions of retiring,” Smith said. “IDG (Industrial Distribution Group) talked me into staying and I know they have talked about next year (2015), but I will not commit. I have not said anything to them, I just wanted to get through this year.

A year ago, veteran racer Rickie Smith hinted he may retire after winning his inaugural NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series championship.

Smith decided to come back for another season in 2014, and the decision paid dividends.


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Rickie Smith made it back-to-back wins at Bristol Dragway, beating Troy Coughlin on a holeshot on Sunday in the finals of the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series at the 13th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers. The race is the fifth of 10 races in 2013 for NHRA’s popular 250-mph doorslammer touring series.

After winning at legendary Thunder Valley in 2012, the King, N.C. native held off a hard-charging Coughlin, the 2012 NHRA Pro Mod Series world champ, in the final, running a 5.991 at 240.47 mph in his IDG Chevy Camaro to claim his second straight victory in Bristol. Coughlin ran a quicker 5.984 at 246.26 in his Corvette, but Smith’s better .061 reaction time sent him to the win, his first in the 2013 season.

“This has been a good track to us over the years and it’s a great deal to win here,” said Smith, whose name is listed on the Legends of Thunder Valley at the track. “We’ve been blessed here and to go out and win every now and then, it’s just a major accomplishment for us.

“We had a rough weekend and we were just trying to save the engine each round, but we’re glad and just so happy to get this win.”

After winning his first-round matchup against Chris Juliano on Saturday, Smith, who qualified second, started Sunday with a second round victory against Pete Farber, going 5.994 at 240.38. In the semifinals, Smith faced off against Robert Patrick and his Ford Mustang, powering to a 6.418 at 169.23 to advance to the finals.

With the victory, Smith also jumped to second in the points standings at the halfway mark of the season. By advancing to the finals, Coughlin, who knocked off Mike Janis and No. 1 qualifier Danny Rowe to reach the championship round, took over the points lead from the Summit Racing Equipment team of Kenny Lang. Lang dropped to third with a second-round exit.

The next NHRA Pro Mod Series race takes place on July 4-7 at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.

Final round-by-round results from the 13th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers at Bristol Dragway, the race is the fifth of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.

-- Eric Dillard, Ford Mustang, 6.103, 246.26 def. Mike Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 7.719, 127.73; Robert Patrick Jr., Mustang, 6.030, 235.35 def. Steve Matusek, Mustang, 12.311, 68.88; Troy Coughlin, Chevy Corvette, 6.020, 246.08 def. Mike Knowles, Camaro, 6.118, 239.53; Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 6.017, 241.41 def. Von Smith, Camaro, 6.670, 155.08; Danny Rowe, Camaro, 6.004,
243.59 def. Clint Satterfield, Pontiac Firebird, 7.852, 183.67; Rickie Smith, Camaro, 6.230, 239.10 def. Chris Juliano, Mustang, DQ; Mike Janis, Camaro, 14.643, 68.29 def. Chip King, Daytona, broke; Kenny Lang, Corvette, 7.102, 220.94 def. Doug Winters, Chevy Bel Air, 7.270, 208.52;

QUARTERFINALS -- Patrick Jr., broke def. Lang, broke; Coughlin, 6.001, 245.54 def. Janis, 6.687, 157.67; R. Smith, 5.994, 240.38 def. Farber, 6.096, 240.04; Rowe, 6.029, 243.02 def. Dillard, 7.930, 149.22;

SEMIFINALS -- Coughlin, 6.001, 246.53 def. Rowe, 6.028, 241.80; R. Smith, 6.418, 163.29 def. Patrick Jr., broke;

FINAL -- R. Smith, 5.991, 240.47 def. Coughlin, 5.984, 246.26.
Point standings (top 10) following the 13th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers at Bristol Dragway, the race is the fifth of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.

1.  Troy Coughlin, 366; 2.  Rickie Smith, 356; 3.  Kenny Lang, 335; 4.  (tie) Mike Janis, 288; Danny Rowe, 288; 6.  Von Smith, 285; 7.  Mike Castellana, 260; 8.  Clint Satterfield, 258; 9.  Chip King, 257; 10.  Pete Farber, 250.

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“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,” said the 59-year-old Smith from King, N.C. “I’ve been doing this for 40 solid years. I drive my own truck and put my own awning up and it’s time to back off, be a crew chief and let these young guys do it. I am tickled to death to pull this deal off. I want to thank IDG for giving me this time to finish my career out. I want to walk away from this thing a champion.”  

Smith’s road to the series crown was opened when title challengers Mike Janis, Von Smith, Kenny Lang and Danny Rowe all lost in the first round and defending world champ Troy Coughlin lost to Laurita in the second round.

Smith claimed his first season championship title in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series when he took the semifinal victory over event top qualifier Jim Laurita. He was ultimately denied the race victory in the final round as Mike Castellana pulled away for the win.

Smith, who says he will retire from the cockpit after this season, was emotional in the media center after being declared the champion with one race remaining on the Pro Mod season schedule. Smith leads second-place Castellana by 142 points and a maximum of 138 points is available to a single racer at each event.


ROUND ONE -- Troy Coughlin, Chevy Corvette, 5.886, 241.63 def. Mike Knowles, Chevy Camaro, 5.918, 244.52; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.108, 208.84 def. Don Walsh, Camaro, 12.169, 57.46; Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.896, 246.39 def. Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 6.061, 229.82; Dan Stevenson, Camaro, DQ def. Steven Whiteley, Camaro, no time; Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.832, 249.12 def. Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.875, 248.11; Kevin Fiscus, Ford Mustang, 5.903, 248.98 def. Eric Latino, Camaro, 5.949, 244.03; Von Smith, Camaro, 5.942, 240.94 def. Jim Laurita, Camaro, 9.812, 89.65; Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.778, 250.04 def. Chip King, Daytona, 8.677, 91.46;

QUARTERFINALS -- Fiscus, 5.984, 239.95 def. Matusek, 9.051, 99.00; V. Smith, 5.929, 242.02 def. Castellana, 5.954, 238.76; Rowe, 5.871, 247.88 def. Whiteley, 10.988, 78.13; R. Smith, 5.814, 249.26 def. Coughlin, 10.990, 83.67;

SEMIFINALS -- V. Smith, 5.910, 242.45 def. Fiscus, 5.914, 248.48; R. Smith, 5.838, 248.39 def. Rowe, 5.941, 244.03;

FINAL -- R. Smith, 5.828, 249.21 def. V. Smith, 15.228, 54.74.

Point standings (top 10) following the 34th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, the third of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.

1.  Rickie Smith, 269; 2.  Mike Castellana, 261; 3.  Danny Rowe, 225; 4.  Mike Janis, 202; 5.  Steve Matusek, 178; 6.  Kevin Fiscus, 164; 7.  Troy Coughlin, 135; 8.  Von Smith, 124; 9.  Steven Whiteley, 119; 10.  Dan Stevenson, 115.

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Reigning NHRA Pro Mod world champion Rickie Smith raced to victory Monday during the Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the rain-delayed Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals Sunday.  

Smith, the No. 1 qualifier, drove his IDG 13’ Chevy Camaro to a winning performance of 5.828 seconds at 249.21 mph, defeating No. 15 seed Von Smith. It was the first win of the year for Rickie Smith, who secured his fifth career victory and the first at the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series race in Atlanta, which was presented by the Real Pro Mod Association.  

Von Smith’s effort was highlighted by an upset of No. 2 qualifier Jim Laurita in the first round. Von Smith, the 2010 NHRA Pro Mod world champion, was looking for his first win since the second Charlotte race last season.  

Mike Castellana won the season-opening event in Gainesville and raced to a second round appearance at Atlanta Dragway, while Mike Janis was eliminated in the first round following his victory in Houston.  

The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series continues May 29-June 1 with the Toyota NHRA SummerNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Englishtown, N.J


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KING, NC (June 18, 2012) – Rickie Smith and his Industrial Distribution Group (IDG) Chevrolet Camaro went into the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals this past weekend looking to make a comeback after last year’s wreck. 

The veteran drag racer has had his ups and downs at the legendary track. From having his name atop the grandstands, as one of the first four legends inducted at Thunder Valley to a wreck last year resulting in knee surgery, Smith wanted to come out on top this year.

Smith and his IDG Chevy qualified in the No. 1 spot in the Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx. Running a 5.900 et at 240.85 mph, Smith was clearly the leader of the field as raceday rolled around.

Taking out Doug Winters, Mike Knowles, Jay Payne and Donald Walsh, Smith proved he was on a mission as he captured the win and won his second race of the year.

“I just can’t believe it,” said Rickie Smith. “First I got to thank IDG and Larry Tutterow with Caroling Drilling without those two I would not be out here. I just can’t thank them enough!”

“I have had a lot of success on this track, but after last year’s wreck I didn’t even know if I would be back or not. So to come here and dominate like we did is just great. It feels like old times. We got a bad little hot rod here and this old man ain’t too bad either.”

Smith sits second in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx point standings, just 13 points out of the lead.

Smith is running in both the NHRA and ADRL Series’ this year.

Smith’s next race will be this weekend in Petersburg, VA at the U.S. Drags V in the ADRL Series.


Rickie Smith went into the NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals as your point’s leader and came out still atop the standings.  Extending his Championship points lead to 98 points.

Smith and his nitrous-injected IDG Chevrolet Camaro qualified No. 1 at the prestigious Indianapolis event. Round after round on Sunday Smith showed everyone why he was the points leader. Putting down the fastest elapse time each pass.

Advancing to the finals, Smith would come up just a tad short of the win light.  Running a 5.955 et at 241.37 mph to Mike Janis’s winning 5.952 et at 241.41 mph.

“We ran well all weekend,” said Rickie Smith.  “Janis just stepped it up a notch in the finals and we were right there together all the way down the track.  It was a great drag race. With only three races left I just have to keep going rounds and looking for the Win light. This Championship is going to be close. There are a lot of tough cars out there to beat. We just have to stay focused and keep doing our job on raceday.”

Smith and the rest of the NHRA Pro Modified Drag Racing Series will head to zMax Dragway in Concord, NC (Smith’s home track) the weekend of September 13-15.

Smith, who says he may retire from the cockpit after this season, was emotional in the media center after being declared the champion with one race remaining on the Pro Mod season schedule. Smith leads second-place Castellana by 142 points and a maximum of 138 points is available to a single racer at each event.

“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,” said the 59-year-old Smith from King, N.C. “I’ve been doing this for 40 solid years. I drive my own truck and put my own awning up and it’s time to back off, be a crew chief and let these young guys do it. I am tickled to death to pull this deal off. I want to thank IDG for giving me this time to finish my career out. I want to walk away from this thing a champion.”  

Smith’s road to the series crown was opened when title challengers Mike Janis, Von Smith, Kenny Lang and Danny Rowe all lost in the first round and defending world champ Troy Coughlin lost to Laurita in the second round.

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Veteran racer Rickie Smith took advantage of several early exits by most of his series challengers and captured the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series world championship title at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.

Smith claimed his first season championship title in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series when he took the semifinal victory over event top qualifier Jim Laurita. He was ultimately denied the race victory in the final round as Mike Castellana pulled away for the win.

Reigning NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series world champion Rickie Smith raced to the NHRA Pro Mod Series victory Monday at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world's most prestigious race. Pro Mod racing was presented by JEGS at the event.

Smith ran his '68 IDG Camaro to a 5.901-second pass at 245.72 mph, defeating Pete Farber in the final. It was Smith's second win of the season and sixth of his career. Smith, the runner-up at Indianapolis last season, defeated Danny Rowe, Jeff Naiser and Troy Coughlin on the way to the final.

Farber drove his CRC Brakeleen Dodge Daytona to the final round with victories over Steven Whiteley, Steve Matusek and Billy Glidden. It was his second final round appearance of the season, following a victory in Bristol. Farber was appearing in his first Indianapolis final.

The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series will head to Charlotte, N.C. for the Pro Mod portion of the NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 12-14. The event is the seventh of 10 races on the 2014 schedule.

Final round-by-round results from the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis, the seventh of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.

ROUND ONE -- Dan Stevenson, Chevy Camaro, 7.628, 128.32 def. Kevin Fiscus, Ford Mustang, foul; Mike Knowles, Camaro, 5.957, 215.72 def. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.076, 235.89; Troy Coughlin, Chevy Corvette, 5.864, 247.84 def. Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.929, 242.84; Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.895, 244.38 def. Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.919, 244.60; Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.963, 242.41 def. Von Smith, Camaro, 5.931, 241.93; Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.957, 241.97 def. Steven Whiteley, Camaro, 6.123, 238.76; Jeff Naiser, Camaro, 5.898, 239.87 def. Jim Bell, Camaro, foul; Bill Glidden, Mustang, 5.902, 237.71 def. Don Walsh, Camaro, 5.872, 250.41;

QUARTERFINALS -- Farber, 5.923, 243.46 def. Matusek, 6.009, 242.50; Coughlin, 5.890, 247.97 def. Knowles, 5.938, 242.76; Glidden, 5.970, 219.65 def. Stevenson, foul; R. Smith, 5.908, 246.17 def. Naiser, 7.333, 137.32;

SEMIFINALS -- Farber, 5.926, 243.24 def. Glidden, foul; R. Smith, 5.898, 245.45 def. Coughlin, 5.893, 245.40;FINAL -- R. Smith, 5.901, 245.72 def. Farber, 6.924, 171.60    

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KING, NC (June 19, 2011) – Rickie Smith has ran more passes at the Bristol’s Thunder Valley Dragway than any other drag racer in history, the veteran racer would have never thought the outcome for this past weekend’s race would have happened.

After taking his new sponsor, Industrial Distribution Group (IDG) to their first race of the season, Smith got a different ending than he was expecting.

During the second qualifying session for the Get Screened America Pro Mod Challenge Series, Smith was on an incredible pass; however after slightly getting out of the groove, then hitting the tunnel bump, Smith went head on into the wall.

Smith felt himself get out of the groove, so he pushed the clutch in and pulled the parachutes. Even with him getting out of the throttle early, Smith still managed to qualify in the fourth spot with a 6.006 et at 224.92 mph.

After crossing the finish line Smith’s IDG Camaro shot straight across the track into the right wall. Smith was then taken to the hospital for examination of his left leg.

The result is a left tibial plateau fracture. His knee is fractured and displaced. The swelling of his knee is so bad; he will have to wait till it goes down to have surgery, which should be early in the week.

“I am honestly just frustrated,” said Rickie Smith. “I couldn’t even tell you the last time I have wrecked. It’s no fun.”

“The car just got out of the groove a bit to the left, and before I could correct it, I hit the tunnel bump and it shot dead right. I hate that Farber was there and I’m glad he is okay.”

Smith has sent his IDG Camaro back to Jerry Bickel Race Shops to see what can be salvaged and if it can be fixed. During the meantime, Smith will have a long process in recovery of his knee. Looks to be around three months.“I am definitely in some pain. Would have never thought that something like this would hurt so bad. Seems like things were finally starting to go in the right direction and now we have a major set back. We will do all we can to get back out there by Indy.”


Pro Stock Motorcycle's Matt Smith had his Wally trophy in hand and had to wait awhile to see if Pro Modified-driving dad Rickie Smith would earn one, too, against final-round foe Mike Castellana.
He did Sunday at the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio, making the King, N.C., natives the first father-son pairing in NHRA history to hoist Wallys side by side as professional-class winners.
Funny Car's Johnny Gray -- who won Sunday, ironically -- missed his bid at Atlanta earlier this year to take the honor when son Shane Gray was the Pro Stock runner-up.

The Bernsteins, Kenny in Top Fuel and Brandon in Top Alcohol Dragster, shared the stage in 2001 at Las Vegas.



Veteran team owner-driver Rickie Smith received the 2019 Mike Aiello "Spirit of Drag Racing" Award Sunday morning before eliminations at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway. owner and publisher Bobby Bennett made the surprise presentation to Smith, of King, N.C.  The Mike Aiello Award recipient is someone who has persevered and remained positive in spite of hardship.


Doorslammer legend “Tricky” Rickie Smith secured his first championship in Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Pro Nitrous after making his way to the winner’s circle at three events in 2015. The championship marks Smith’s tenth overall during a remarkable racing career that has spanned four decades.

The iconic racer from King, North Carolina took home top honors at the PDRA Spring Nationals at Rockingham Dragway in April, the PDRA North-South Shootout at Maryland International Raceway in July, and finally PDRA Dragstock XII at Rockingham Dragway in September.

Smith’s Jerry Bickel-built, IDG-backed 1969 Camaro relied on power, durability, and consistency from Pat Musi Racing Engines to win the championship. Smith also used electronically fuel injected Musi engines to win back-to-back NHRA Pro Mod series titles in 2013 and 2014.

“The importance of having Rickie on board with us can’t be overstated,” Pat Musi said. “No one has more experience running a fast door car than Rickie, and that experience is critical to our overall engine program. When he goes out and wins these races and championships, it doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s the best out there and all of us here at Pat Musi Racing Engines want to congratulate him and his team on another championship.”

Though he has flirted with retirement after each of the last two seasons, Smith’s recent success has kept him coming back for more. Smith hasn’t yet made any indication of his plans for the 2016 racing season, but it’s a safe bet the 61-year-old competitor will be back for another title defense.​​

Two-time world champion Rickie Smith outran Danny Rowe in the final round to win the NHRA J&A Services Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals Sunday at Gainesville Raceway. This weekend's Pro Mod racing, co-presented by Pro Line Racing and Jerry Bickel Race Cars, Inc., is the first of 10 events on the season.



Smith, the back-to-back reigning NHRA Pro Mod champion and current PDRA Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous points leader, placed 14th with a 3.90 pass in the opening round of qualifying and was 17th after round two despite improving to 3.83 seconds. That left Friday night's third session when he vaulted up to ninth with a 3.79et at 198.67mph before ultimately qualifying his IDG-backed '69 Camaro eight with a 3.78et at 198.67mph.


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Smith's late model IDG Chevrolet Camaro powered to a performance of 5.829 seconds at 249.86 mph to hold off Rowe's Agave Underground Tequila '68 Chevy Camaro that raced a 5.869 at 233.76. It was Smith's ninth victory and second at Gainesville Raceway. He was runner-up here in 2014. Smith took out Steven Whiteley, last year's Gatornationals champ, Mike Castellana, and Chip King to meet Rowe in the finals. Rowe, who qualified 15th, was looking for his fifth career victory and first at Gainesville. He defeated Robert Patrick Jr., Steve Matusek and former Pro Stock driver, Jonathan Gray in the earlier rounds. Rowe was runner-up behind Khalid alBalooshi here in 2011. 

The Pro Mod Drag Racing Series returns April 29-May 1 at the NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway near Houston. 

Although the NHRA Pro Modified class does not compete in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series (it has an unsponsored series of its own), it is considered a professional category.
As Matt Smith sat in the Summit Motorsports Park media center, watching, he said, "It would be awesome to share the winners circle with him. I hope he pulls it off for IDG and the Smith family. Take these two wins back to King, North Carolina, is what I hope happens."

Then he promised, "If he wins, we're not going to tear the awnings down tonight. We're going to party tonight."
And they had a right to party.
Matt Smith (6.954 seconds, 192.44 mph) defeated Sovereign-Star Racing Buell rider Scotty Pollacheck  (7.008, 191.16) for his first victory of the season but his Viper Motorcycle Company / Matt Smith Racing team's third straight final-round appearance.
Matt Smith missed the chance the previous weekend to win on the same day as his father, who drove to victory at the American Drag Racing League race at Martin, Mich. Matt Smith was runner-up to Michael Ray at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Nationals at Route 66 Raceway at Joliet, Ill., that day.

But Rickie Smith sealed the deal Sunday in the all-nitrous showdown against Castellana, driving his IDG Chevy Camaro to 6.103-seconds, 240.77-mph triumph. Castellana  responded with a 6.159, 238.60 in his Al-Anabi Racing Camaro.
With dad dominating the door-slammer drag-racing scene for several decades, it might sound odd that Matt Smith would end up on two wheels. The younger Smith said the explanation is simple.
"He don't want to get out of the car. You see that. He's doin' too good -- he won't let me in there," he said. "I had to take up a hobby that I could afford. I could afford bikes. I couldn't afford a car. One day maybe he'll get out of that thing and put me in there and we'll keep the name going in that deal."
Said Rickie Smith, "I would have let him drive before now, but it takes every nickel and dime to do this stuff. It's not that I don't want him to drive. It's just that I can't afford it."
Besides, he indicated, he's proud of his son for making his own way in racing and even winning the 2007 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle series championship along the way.
"He's done everything he's done on his own, just like I have," Dad Rickie said. "He come up working on bikes around home, made him some money. I give him $10,000 the first time he ever bought a bike, and that is ALL I ever give him. He's raised it hisself and done good."
Furthermore, he said, "Matthew's got several more years to race. I don't. All of you know I'm getting close to retirement from driving. It could very well be that if I win the championship, you could probably see me get out. But that's a long ways off."
As for the immediate accomplishment, he said, "I'm just tickled to death to get it done before I quit. It's tough to win, much less both of you at the same time. It's hard to pull these things off at the same time. When you can get a father and son and get that done, it's just a major accomplishment for family and fans. It goes back to NHRA is family."
And the Smith branch of the family has a great reunion in the winners circle Sunday at Norwalk.

Article and pictures courtesy of

After opening eliminations with a 3.78 win over Steve Jackson, Smith faced one of his biggest rounds of the year in the quarter finals against number-one qualifier Tommy Franklin, who trailed him by less than one round's worth of points heading into Dragstock XII. Whoever won the round was guaranteed to leave with the points lead and an opportunity to extend it substantially. Smith took full advantage, leaving first with a .031 reaction time, then posting another 3.78 pass at 199.17 mph while Franklin slowed to 3.83 at 175.64 when his own '69 Camaro coughed fire from its scoop for the second-straight run as it crossed the finish line.

"That was a huge round," Smith agreed. "We got a little lucky since he was running so fast but it looked like he hurt the motor a run or two before we raced. But sometimes you have to be lucky to win."

In the semi-finals, Smith got it done on the starting line, leaving with a .040 light against the .068 by Jay Cox, which allowed his 3.79 at 198.73 to beat a quicker 3.77 at 198.61 by four-thousandths of a second. Waiting for him was Chris Rini, who started his ATI Performance Products '69 Camaro third after running a career-best 3.75 at 198.23 mph in qualifying. Rini beat Tim Savell, John Hall and John Camp to reach Smith in the final round.

Once there, it looked like Smith was living up to his "Tricky Rickie" reputation as he turned on both the pre-staged and staged bulbs before Rini had even pre-staged.

"I really didn't intend for that to happen," Smith insisted. "I noticed the last two runs the brakes were feeling different and I was just waiting for him to go in when I saw my staged light come on. I didn't even realize the car was creeping forward but when it did I just pressed the transbrake button and got ready to go."

After Rini staged he took a .011 lead off the start, but Smith quickly recovered and made his best run of the weekend with a 3.77 at 198.96 against a 3.82 at 191.46 mph.

"It was that Musi motor and the Bickel chassis, always Bickel, that got it done," Smith said. "That, and Rickie Smith don't ever give up. I've been doing this a long time and that's one thing you can be sure of, I don't ever give up."

Aiello spent his final years confined to a wheelchair after a workplace injury. Despite physical hardship and severe mobility limitations, he not only attended drag races but made dozens of friends among racers, crew members, and media with his positive outlook and unselfish behavior. Aiello passed away December 29, 2006, at age 39, at Santa Monica, California.
Smith, 66, is a seven-time International Hot Rod Association Pro Stock and Super Modified champion. His first championship since 1989 came in 2013, when he earned his first of three NHRA Pro Modified titles. He also won the ADRL Battle of the Belts in 2013 and the 2015 PDRA Pro Mod crown.

He has shared his success with Pro Stock Motorcycle-racing son Matt Smith. In 2013, they won titles in their respective classes, becoming the NHRA’s only father/son duo to win a series championship in the same season. Earlier that year, in a race at Norwalk, Ohio, they shared the winners circle.

He has overcome financial obstacles in an era when big budgets seem to rule.

“I know what hard work is. I know how it is to be broke. I was that way for a long time, and I’m scared to go back that way. I just worked hard. It was juts hard work that won them championships. I’ve done it the best I can with the money I had,” Smith said.

He has overcome what he contends were unfavorable rules changes through the years and proved himself competitive in spite of sometimes costly changes he had to make on his car.

“Rickie Smith has been out here a long time,” he said, referring to himself in third person, “and been through a ton of rule changes . . . NHRA, IHRA, whatever. And I’ve won 11 championships.”

He has overcome back surgery that forced him to miss four NHRA Pro Mod races in 2017. Upon his return to the dragstrip, at Englishtown, N.J., that year, Smith won the race. And that season, as he tuned the race cars of Khalid Al-Balooshi and Jonathan Gray, all three finished in the top 10 in the final standings.

Years ago, as an ultra-competitive high-school athlete, he even overcame the vicious punch of a nasty sideshow monkey that broke his jaw. He went back and defeated the monkey in a rematch. 

And this man who won the first NHRA Pro Modified race in 2001 at Gainesville, Fla., has overcome the physical wear and tear of time.

“Since the 10th grade, I’ve been competitive. It’s a stress to be No. 1. When you’ve done it since the 10th grade of school, it’s tough to keep that going.

“It takes every nickel and dime to do this stuff. It’s a lot of hard work,” he said. “[It’s] lot of thinking, a lot of nights laying and just rolling in the bed, you know what I mean? I live and breathe and eat this stuff, and I have for 40-some years.”

However, Smith said, “I’m one in a million who has made a living for 30 years and won [11] championships.” It has come with a price, too, he said: “I’m gone from my family. I’m gone from my wife [Nancy]. I didn’t get to raise my kids; my wife had to do that. I missed a lot of time back then. But I’m blessed to still be able to do what I do and get myself fired up to do this stuff. It’s tough.”

Smith has been recognized for his on-track achievements. He was one of the original four – along with NHRA founder Wally Parks, IHRA giant Larry Carrier, and Top Fuel icon “Big Daddy” Don Garlits as one of the original four Legends of Thunder Valley at Bristol Dragway. He was inducted into the NHRA Southeast Division and North Carolina halls of fame. In 2007, Smith was chosen the No. 1 Mountain Motor Pro Stock Racer of All-Time.    

He said he wants fans to remember him as “a hard-ass racer” and “somebody who helped the other racer when he needed help.”

Smith, who said every statement and action “comes from the heart,” joins a prestigious list of Mike Aiello Award recipients.

Rickie Smith secured his third NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series championship by qualifying for the series event during the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is the final NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series race of the 2016 season and is presented by Aeromotive Inc.​

Smith, who won the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series championship in 2013 and 2014, raced to a strong start of the season to propel himself to the series crown. In his IDG ’15 Camaro he opened the season with a win at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornational in Gainesville, Fla., defeating Danny Rowe in the finals. He raced to a runner up finish at the next event in Houston and won the third race of the season at Atlanta. He most recently raced to a runner-up finish in St. Louis. He was also the No. 1 qualifier at two events.

“We only have 10 races and when you only have 10 races you can’t get behind as it is hard to catch up,” said Smith. “Luckily, we got off to a heck of a run this year. We went to three finals and won two of them and that got us a good cushion. We kept making rounds and just trying to be consistent on Sunday.

“I was going to retire three years ago because I was ready. But you hate to quit when you are winning and doing this good. I know I’m going to have to quit one day but you can always quit, but you can’t always keep winning.”   

KING, NC (June 15, 2011) – Rickie Smith lands major sponsorship with the Industrial Distribution Group (IDG) for the remainder of the season. Smith and IDG inked the deal earlier this week, and the two are very excited about the partnership.

IDG, based in Belmont, NC, is a nationwide provider of industrial products and engineered solutions for manufacturing that enable customers to save money, improve productivity, and streamline processes. IDG is unique in its technical expertise in metalworking, plant maintenance, and precision assembly. 

The company recently launched the 2011 IDG BLACKBOOK™ print catalog focusing on metalworking and plant operations products that are in stock and ready for same day shipment nationwide. IDG also maintains a robust online catalog @ containing thousands of in stock products that ship same day as ordered. IDG is proud to be associated with Rickie Smith Racing.

“It is great to have them aboard,” said Rickie Smith. “With us teaming up the rest of the year and kicking things off this weekend at Bristol is just awesome. I am very excited and hope to give them a win or two before the year is up.”

Smith and his Industrial Distribution Group (IDG) Nitrous Injected Chevrolet Camaro enter this weekend’s Get Screened America Pro Mod Challenge at Bristol Dragway sitting fifth in the points.

Smith has run at the Bristol Dragway more times then he can count. The veteran is a drag racing legend there, literally. In 2007 Smith was chosen as one of the first four to be listed as inductees into the Legendary Thunder Valley, along with Wally Parks, Larry Carrier and Don Garlits. Smith’s name is proudly displayed atop the main grandstands.

The trickster has more wins then any other driver at the Bristol track. No racer has ever experienced the type of success Smith has had at Bristol. Smith won his first race at Bristol in the 1980s, since then he has won over eight more times at the track. With his statistics at the track, he is sure to be the one to look out for this weekend.

“I love going to Bristol. Not only because it’s close to the house, but I have so many memories there. The track has been real good to us in the past, hopefully we can add another one this weekend.”

Smith and the rest of the Pro Modified drivers will get things kicked off on Friday.