#44 Wayne Smith
Continuing with interviews we started in 2011, we are talking with drivers from the 2011 season. We sat down with 2011 Champion Wayne Smith to talk about his racing career, his team and what racing is like for them.
Look for other chats with drivers throughout the year. We hope you enjoy these talks as much as we did doing them.
MPST: Congratulations on winning the 2011 MPST championship and becoming a three-time champion with six overall championships. How does this championship compare to the others?
Smith: Itís pretty cool. We had a new tour sponsor this year in Parts For Trucks and they have been involved in racing a long time. At the start of the season we werenít intending to run the whole season, but we started off pretty good and were leading the points. When youíre leading the points itís pretty hard to stop and I said to the boys if we were able to pull this deal off, we probably would never run a full season again. Thatís one of the things we were looking at and with Parts For Trucks there, and the trophy was pretty cool too. It was pretty cool.
The first one is obviously a pretty exciting thing to do, but to win one of these things - itís very hard. To win any one is pretty amazing. They are pretty much the same when you win the first one you think itís a hard thing to do, then when you win another one itís a little easier. Theyíre all pretty cool to win. Thereís guys out there that have been racing for many years and have never won a Pro Stock championship. When you compare it to that itís pretty cool to win one.
MPST: How did your interest in racing start?
Smith: My father did a little bit of racing. He ran over in Lawrencetown. When I turned sixteen, we decided I would go down and buy a mini stock that was down in Purcellís Cove. We went down and got the old thing and started in Onslow. Once you get behind the wheel of one of these things and you like driving, itís hard to get out. Thatís where it started, my father did it and I just continued on.
MPST: When you were going to the races with your dad, who were the guys, you remember watching?
Smith: I remember watching Greg Sewart, Mike Mackenzie, Bobby Yuille, Jim Hallahan, Caleb Dunn and Paul Lewis, I watched all those guys and when I sit down today to look at pictures, I remember watching the races and what cars they drove.
MPST: After mini stock what other divisions did you run?
Smith: After Mini Stock we went into a Sportsman car in Onslow and then Scotia Speedworld opened and we started to run Friday nights at Scotia and Sunday afternoon in Onslow. Then I drove a car for Randy Jollimore for a couple of years in Street Stock and ran the Sportsman car at the same time. That was a busy couple of years. From there, Frank Jackson came along and we started Pro Stock racing and have been doing it ever since.
MPST: Racing takes support from the family, talk about your family and how they support Wayne Smith.
Smith: They all support it. Ellen (Wayneís wife) definitely does a good job for me and the kids are there most of the time. Brothers and sisters all help. My Mother Elsie always comes to the races and my Father did too. The kids, Kaila, Ashley and Trevor all support me.
MPST: The driver canít do this alone; it takes a crew to be successful. Who crews on the 44 car?
Smith: Over the years there have been some guys who have come and gone. In the past Wally Brown, Bob Somers, Todd Coats and Ken Fralick were with me for many years and we won championships with them. Preston, Verdaís (Wayneís Mother-In-Law) brother was there for a few years way back when we first started. Frank Jackson (Wayneís father-In Law) obviously and Steve Dobson have been with me for years. Last year we had Marc Blackburn, Allan Blackburn, Kevin Smith, Steve Dobson, Frank and Verda, sheís always there to support me. Steveís wife, Pam, Kevinís wife, Lisa and Marcís wife, Lauralee were all there to support me too.
MPST: How does a typical week in your race shop go?
Smith: We stay at the track most of the time, so we get home Sunday. Monday night we take the car out of the trailer and go over it a little bit to see where we are. If nothing is torn up too bad weíll just check the wheel and axel bearings and check the bolts. We scale the car every week since we go to different tracks, so weíll change a couple of springs, Change the rear end gears. By Wednesday night weíre pretty much ready. Thursday we come home from work and put the car on the scales, scale the car up and load it in the trailer. Off to the races on Friday night.
MPST: You leave for the race Friday night. Walk us through the race weekend.
Smith: We usually leave Friday night by 5:00 or 5:30 and get on the road. Usually arrive at the track around 9:30 or 10:00, if everything goes right. Stay the night and get up in the morning and get into the line-up for the pits. We go into the pits and do our thing. After the race we usually stay at the track Saturday night. Unless we are torn up bad, we stay until Sunday. Get up, clean up and head for home and relax for half a night and back at it again on Monday.
MPST: You have been at this a long time, what motivates Wayne Smith to buckle in the seat and go out on the track and battle?
Smith: We like winning races. We are usually one of the top cars and that keeps you coming back. Youíre racing with Shawn Tucker, Turple, Slaunwhite and Flemming those guys, theyíre top competition and some of the best out there, so if you can steal a win or two from them, thatís what keeps bringing you back.
MPST: Whatís the best think about competing on the Parts For Trucks Pro Stock Tour?
Smith: The purses are decent, weíre not making a living at this but weíre paying our bills. You go to a great banquet and you have nice trophies. Itís all around good. You go to the racetrack every week and I get along good with most everyone. Thatís what I like about it.
MPST: Is there a team or Driver who offered help or advice when you were starting that sticks in your mind?
Smith: The person who most helped me was Mike MacKenzie. I went over there lots of times and he helped me with set-ups. The very first Pro Stock car, we bought from Don Beiderman and I worked out of garage in Beechville. We brought the car home and ran it and I actually won a race with it that year. Car wasnít perfect, so we tore it down and took it to Mike MacKenzieís and put it on a jig. It was twisted and bent and we straightened it the best we could. We ran it a couple of more years. I would say the team that helped me the most, was Mike MacKenzieís.
MPST: Current day on the Tour, who do you admire?
Smith: As far as Iím concerned, Tucker is one of the best-organized teams. When he comes to the racetrack he is ready to go. The car is prepared - itís ready. If your looking for the best team, Iíd say itís the 52 car.
MPST: Over the years you have raced at a number of tracks. Which was the toughest one to adapt to?
Smith: Thatís a tough one. I donít know if one track is tougher than another. The toughest race Iíve been trying to win is the (Speedway) 660 250 and Iíve never done it. Iíve come second and third .I wouldnít say itís the toughest racetrack Iíve been on. Probably Miramichi was one of the toughest Iíve been on. We went there and we were really in bad shape in the afternoon and we just worked on the car. I remember the day we went there the car was so loose you could hardly drive it, but at the end of the day we were the quickest there and won the race. As far as the toughest, that was probably it.
MPST: What do you do in the off-season?
Smith: Work on racecars. Work on racetracks right now. We take a break until about Christmas and then start on the cars. We wonít pressure hard this year because weíre not going to the first race. Our first race will be the 250 in Antigonish. We have more time than most people do this year. We have another little guy here thatís going to start running a Bandolero, so Iíve been working on that with him and his dad.
MPST: Whatís your best memory in racing?
Smith: Oh man thatís tough! When you get the checkered flag, thatís a good feeling.
MPST: As a part owner in Petty International Raceway, did you learn anything different that you didnít realize before?
Smith: Youíve got to relax and be cool because you see stuff that you donít think people would do. Thereís stuff happening that you donít realize. Youíve got this one hollering at you for something and someone else mad about something else. It looks like everything is running smooth, but thereís a lot behind the scenes.
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