PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The 2001 racing season will go down as one Bryan Smith and his fans will not soon forget. The 18-year-old racer, who hails from a hotbed of flat-track racing, Flint, Mich., not only earned his first AMA Pro Racing title, but...
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The 2001 racing season will go down as one Bryan Smith and his fans will not soon forget. The 18-year-old racer, who hails from a hotbed of flat-track racing, Flint, Mich., not only earned his first AMA Pro Racing title, but he was named 2001 Grand National Dirt Track Rookie of the Year.
Smith's sole victory in the AMA Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Series came at the Du Quoin (Ill.) Mile in July, but he was a model of consistency this season taking five podium finishes in six races. Smith broke Willie McCoy's two-year winning streak in the Sportster Performance Series.
"It's special to be able to take the title away from my best friend, Willie McCoy, whose helped me a lot this year," said an appreciative Smith. "I've got to thank Jim Wagner and Widman Harley-Davidson for giving me a great bike and everybody who helped, my Mom, Dad, Sisters, Grandma, Grandpa, my girlfriend, Jethro and Tryce."
The 2001 Rookie of the Year honors came as a result of his solid first-year performance in the premier AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championships. Smith finished the Grand National season ranked 24th in the standings, earning two top-10 finishes, with his best result a seventh at the renowned Springfield (Ill.) Mile race on Sept. 2. Smith talked about becoming Rookie of the Year.
"It was my main goal, to be Rookie of the Year, and luckily it worked out and it's even cooler that I won the championship in the 883 class. I'm super happy with my rookie year and I hope next year is even better." Smith follows in the footsteps of past AMA Dirt Track Rookies of the Year recipients, such as Jay Springsteen, Bubba Shobert, Jimmy Filice, Doug Chandler, Chris Carr, Nicky Hayden and a host of other great riders. The award was initiated in 1971.
This year's accomplishments for Smith add to an already impressive resume for such a young rider. In 2000, he won the 600 Pro Sport class in the AMA Hot Shoe Series and in 1999 he was co-recipient of the prestigious AMA Horizon Award, which honors the nation's top amateur competitor.
- Connie Fleming