30 year old London boy Pat Smith has had a racing career that spans over ten years now. The affable lad from the Big Smoke with the ready smile and distinct accent has had his grandfather Bill ‘Tiger’ Smith as the driving force behind Pat’s career to date and the 72 year old Bill, himself an ex Super Rod Superstar from the eighties shows no signs of slowing down!
With Bill’s constant support and encouragement, Pat has been through the junior and senior classes of racing from Mini Stox to Bangers, Arena Essex’s 2 Litre Hot Rods, to Stock Rods and last season, 2012, Pat graduated to Classic Hot Rods, introducing to the sport a stunning beautifully prepared Crossflow powered Angle Box.
Pat’s decision to move up to Classic Hot Rods was made at the end of 2011. Somewhat disenchanted with the powers that be in Stock Rod racing over the letter of and the interpretation of the rules, Smith retired from the class, having been one of its top drivers. “Then me granddad said to me, ‘how abart gettin’ one o’ them classic hot rods?” They appealed to Bill because they were what were on the scene ‘back in the day.’
Now Pat, being only 30, is one of the slightly younger drivers on the Classic Hot Rod scene. He could have graduated to National Hot Rods. But Pat is adamant that Classic was the best choice out there. Aside from being terrific to drive, he believes they look stylish and full of character to the race fan, and they put on a far more entertaining Rod race than the National Hot Rods do. (controversial……) “Nationals are like follow the leader. In Classic Hot Rod racing there IS over taking, and…..you ain’t gotta throw a hundred grand a year at them! (Laughter!)”
Having said that, Pat admits that CHRs are not cheap and the time enthusiasm and dedication that Bill Smith puts into keeping #16 on the tracks is phenomenal. “Granddad spends every spare moment he has on that car in the garage. He’s out fiddling with that car from early in the morning to anywhere to nine o’ clock at night!” Bill is an expert in engine preparation too and therefore the speed of Pat’s car courtesy of the 1700cc Crossflow push rod engine is down to the Smith garage, thus happily avoiding Pat huge engine bills!
In the short time Pat has been racing Classic Hot Rods he has certainly seen some highs and lows. Smith made a fantastic impression in 2012 on the tight tarmac track at Yarmouth taking a brace of victories, only for it to go horribly wrong at the very next meeting at Ipswich when #16 was the meat in the sandwich when 22 Rob Montanger’s Chevette lost control and took the spritely little Anglia into the Ipswich racewall! The damage was horrible with the front end horribly squashed. And to make matters worse, team Smith had been all set for the Veteran’s race at Hednesford just a fortnight later where Bill was due to have his last hurrah behind the wheel. It took Pat and Bill took two weeks solid work every day of the week with others helping to utterly rebuild the car, and incredibly, they got it done. Bill did get to race! Pat again is full of admiration for his granddad Bill. “I just wouldn’t have got it done without him, and for me it was important as I got to see him race for what was probably the last time.”
As for 2013, Pat is full of confidence. The car feels as good as it goes. Having already taken a win at the confines of Wimbledon in February, Smith is looking forward to the open spaces that Hednesford offers. He freely admits that no track is an issue to him. He likes the small tracks of Wimbledon, Aldershot and Yarmouth and the big ones like Ipswich, Hednesford and Northampton.
He intends to do all the meetings in Classic Hot Rods in 2013 and in fact has another Classic nearing completion that he intends to debut at National Weekend in August. When its suggested that he’s earmarked as a potential winner of the Points title, a wry smile breaks across his face. “We’ll just see what happens.” He says. “Dave Fry is very consistent and Stu Donald is very fast. If I win I win, if I don’t it’s just a sport. The banter is good between the drivers. As long as the racing is good, we have a laugh and we take the car home in one piece, that’s good enough for me.”