‘Tricky Rickie’ Smith headlines Super Chevy Show

ROCKINGHAM — Walking away from a sport that has dominated his every waking moment for more than 40 years proved to be more difficult than Rickie Smith ever imagined.

That’s why the 60-year-old North Carolinian is back at the wheel of his 2013 IDG Camaro this week at Rockingham Dragway trying to add a victory in the Dieffenbach Super Chevy Show to his already overflowing resume.

A Rockingham Dragway photo

A Rockingham Dragway photo

After driving the very same Camaro to an NHRA Pro Modified championship a year ago, Smith announced his retirement in an emotional celebration shared with his son, Matt, who won the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle title.  At the time, he said he wanted to go out while he was on top.

Well, he still may do so.

After recanting his retirement announcement, the resident of King, N.C., is back in the NHRA Pro Mod point lead after winning the sport’s most prestigious event, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., for the second time in his career.

For the man known to rivals as “Tricky Rickie,” the only thing better than retiring after winning one Pro Mod championship apparently is retiring after winning two.

Not that Smith isn’t accustomed to championships.  The fact is he’s won more than any other North Carolina driver in any discipline.  And that includes Richard Petty, a friend and idol to whom he once paid homage by racing an STP-packed Pontiac Pro Stock car in 1990 that was outfitted in Petty blue-and-red paint that mimicked “The King’s” stock cars of the era.

Smith has won eight championships.  He’s looking at nine.  That’s pretty exclusive territory.  Old Pro Stock rival Bob Glidden (10 NHRA titles) and current NHRA Funny Car champion John Force (16) are the only drivers with more.

Still, Smith’s credentials may be the most impressive of all.  While Force and Glidden won all their titles in one category, Smith has won in three different classes and has won races in more than that.  Plus, he still drives his own truck to the races, still puts up his own awnings, still sets up the chassis, tunes the engine and drives.

He won two IHRA Super Modified champions early in his career, justifying his decision to turn down a football scholarship to pursue racing, and then won five IHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock titles in five years.  As a result, he was named the No. 1 Mountain Motor Racer of all time.

A member of the Pro Stock 220 Mile an Hour Club and the Holley 6-Second Pro Stock Club, Smith not only has won races in the United States, he’s also won in Bahrain and Qatar where he helped organize the Al-Anabi Pro Mod Racing effort.

Despite his skill set and his past success, this weekend’s race won’t be a walkover for the Carolina Hall of Famer.  He will be opposed by many of the drivers against whom he competes regularly on the NHRA and PDRA circuits.

Other confirmed Pro Mod drivers are Travis “the Carolina Kid” Harvey, 1968 Camaro, from Elon; Danny Perry, 2014 Camaro from Sims; Brian Tachman, 1970 Camaro from Virginia Beach, Va.; Keith Floyd, 1968 Camaro from Lexington; Charles Terrell, 1967 Mustang from Kernersville; Steve Vick, 1968 Camaro from Mocksville; and Chris Rini, 1969 Camaro from Carmel, N.Y.

In addition to the Pro Mods, the three-day event will included the Dieffenbach Superstore GM car and truck show, a Chevy parts swap meet, the Gear Jammers, Danny O’Day and “the world’s fastest wheelstander,” the jet-powered 1941 Willys of Terry Rosberg and the Camaro Shootout.

Adult admission for the event is $20 per day or $35 for all three days if ticket is purchased in advance.  Children 12 and under are just $5.  Parking in Rockingham’s main lot is free.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Sports

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